International SOS, the medical and security services company, is providing advice on health preparations Health And Security Advice for Hajj Amidst Covid-19. This year, the Hajj begins between 17 July and 22 July. The pilgrims will start arriving on Saturday.
The Ministry of Hajj announced that the 60,000 people permitted include residents of all nationalities and citizens who reside inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The number of pilgrims were restricted to 1000 pilgrims.
Owing to the pandemic, only the vaccinated and between the ages of 18-65 can perform the Hajj rituals. In addition they should be also free of chronic diseases.
Usually, nearly 3 million foreign and domestic pilgrims perform Hajj in Mecca, Mina, Arafat & Muzdalifah, with many also travelling to Medina in the weeks preceding or following the pilgrimage. Last year, only domestic pilgrims got permission as the kingdom closed its borders to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Dr Olivier Barles, Regional Medical Director at International SOS in Dubai, advises:
“In the context of COVID-19 and even for those that have been fully vaccinated, pilgrims should continue to adhere to personal precautionary measures in order to best protect themselves from the potential threat of all the COVID-19 variants. Therefore, they are still advised to keep safe distance between each other, to wear face masks and gloves and maintain a high degree of personal hygiene by washing hands frequently. It is also important to follow the regulations outlined by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia and to pay attention to other known diseases prevalent in the region, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Wellness measures to cope with environmental issues, such as the extreme heat should also be implemented. Then, always choose clean, well-cooked food and safe beverages, including bottled water and pasteurised milk. Also, take measures to stay hydrated and cool to avoid heat-related illnesses.”
Mazen Jomaa, Regional Security Manager at International SOS in Dubai, said:
“Pilgrims undertaking Hajj this year, who are already residing in the Kingdom, should ensure they have taken the necessary precautions, obtained the correct approvals and follow the government regulations closely. Further, any domestic movements to Mecca, Mina and Muzdalifa should be completed with a trusted pilgrimage organiser that has the appropriate vehicles in place.”
International SOS top advice for Hajj during COVID-19
Before leaving for Hajj all health issues should be stabilized. Pack enough medicines for the trip, with some extra in case of delays.
Save emergency contacts (police, ambulance, embassy, local contacts) and ensure that the mobile phone does not run out of charge.
Monitor the situation – keep updated about the latest news and recommendations.
Exercise heightened caution with regards to religious and cultural sensitivities, especially on social media platforms and respect all local legal, religious and cultural conventions at all times
Expect tighter security at transport hubs as well as increased traffic and congestion.
While conducting the pilgrimage, comply with your hajj operator’s instructions, specifically during the stoning rituals. In order to minimize the potential of overcrowding, different operators organized by Saudi Authorities got specific time slots. While completing your pilgrimage, be mindful of your belongings when moving through the crowds.
Stay well hydrated to avoid heatstroke. Select safer food and beverages – Use bottled water. Wash fruits and vegetables well. Clean and cook the meat thoroughly, and avoid unpasteurized dairy items.
Pay attention to people who may look sick. Keep your distance, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
Read more on essential questions about Covid-19