Health experts from Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Charity working for the welfare and wellbeing of Hajj/Umrah pilgrims, has extended its support to the advisory issued by the Saudi Arabia Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah asking prospective pilgrims from the high risk categories, including the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, and children under five, to delay Hajj and Umrah this year because of the possibility of an outbreak of infectious diseases.

The Hajj/Umrah pilgrims have always been at a high risk of contracting infectious diseases due to their close proximity with millions of people from around the world during the pilgrimage. In the recent past, about 20 British Hajj/Umrah returnees tragically died due to the Meningitis outbreak and 3 tragic deaths occurred due to the Coronavirus. These infectious diseases still remain a serious threat to the pilgrims from around the world during the Hajj/Umrah pilgrimage.

It is highly regrettable that a large number of pilgrims are still travelling without appropriate protection against infectious diseases. ABH also supported the directive issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that all incoming passengers who wish to perform Hajj or Umrah, or for seasonal employment, should have inoculations against infectious diseases, and they must submit proof of vaccinations for Meningitis ACYW135, seasonal or common flu, and the H1N1 flu.

Moreover, ABH also strongly commended the advisory issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that requires the relevant countries to take the issue of the outbreak of infectious diseases seriously. These countries must disseminate vital life-saving information amongst the vulnerable prospective pilgrims to educate them about the preventive measures against life-threatening, infectious diseases. This will also ensure elimination of the risk of the outbreak of deadly infectious diseases upon their return form Hajj/Umrah pilgrimage.