haj-kabeHealth experts from The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Hajj/Umrah specific organisation, has warned over 6 million prospective Umrah pilgrims from around the world, including over 100,000 prospective British pilgrims, who are expected to perform Umrah during this year’s Umrah season, that they must safeguard their health against the risk of contracting infectious diseases during the pilgrimage.

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

The infectious diseases can be transmitted through direct person-to-person contact via droplets of nasal or throat secretions of infected individuals. Close and prolonged contact with infected individuals (e.g. sneezing and coughing on someone) facilitates the spread of infection. Elderly, people suffering from chronic diseases, i.e. lungs, heart, kidney, lever, diabetes, etc., children, pregnant women, and those with immunity deficiency are specifically at higher risk of catching infectious diseases.

Regrettably, a large number of pilgrims are still travelling without appropriate protection against infectious diseases. The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) strongly supports the advisory issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that urges the relevant countries to take the issue of health risk to their pilgrims seriously. These countries must disseminate vital life-saving information amongst the prospective pilgrims to educate them about the preventive measures against life-threatening infectious diseases. This will also ensure the elimination of the risk of the outbreak of deadly infectious diseases upon the return of the pilgrims to their country of origin.