Health and Security Advice for Hajj Amidst COVID-19 from International SOS
International SOS, the world’s leading medical and security services company, is providing advice on health preparations for Hajj in Saudi Arabia, amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
In a normal year, more than 3 million foreign and domestic pilgrims are expected to perform their religious duties in Mecca, Mina, Arafat & Muzdalifah, with many also travelling to Medina in the weeks before and after the pilgrimage.
For 2020, as per Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, between Wednesday 29 July and Sunday 2 August, the annual pilgrimage will be restricted to a very limited number of pilgrims. This will consist of people of all nationalities who are already residing in the country.
Dr Olivier Barles, Regional Medical Director at International SOS in Dubai, advises:
“In the context of COVID-19, pilgrims are 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 outline 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), that can be managed with practical attention to hygiene. 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 and follow closely the government regulations. As for domestic travel within the Kingdom, ensuring there is a clear understanding of the current restrictions in place will be critical to minimise any potential journey disruptions.”
International SOS top advice for Hajj during COVID-19:
- Wear a face mask and gloves at all times and maintain a distance of at least 2 metres between yourself and others.
- It is important to follow good hygiene measures including regularly washing your hands and disposing of used masks and gloves safely and immediately.
- Ensure you comply fully with all government requirements.
- Ensure any health issues are stabilised. If you need any medications, pack enough for the trip, with some extra in case of delays.
- Save emergency contacts on your mobile phone and make sure it is charged (police, ambulance, embassy, local contacts).
- Monitor the situation – remain abreast of 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.
- If conducting the pilgrimage, comply with your hajj operator’s instructions, specifically during the stoning rituals. There are set times for different operators organised by Saudi Authorities to minimise the potential for overcrowding. While completing your pilgrimage, be mindful of your belongings when moving throughout the crowds.
- Stay well hydrated to avoid heatstroke. Select safer food and beverages – Use bottled water. Wash fruits and vegetables well. Ensure any meat is thoroughly cooked, avoid non-pasteurised dairy items.
- Pay attention to people who may look sick; again, keep your distance wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- Avoid direct contact with animals, including camels. A potentially severe illness caused by another Coronavirus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) can be present in camels and their products.
Notes to Editors
About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help you meet compliance reporting needs for good governance. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.
Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group is trusted by 12,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune Global 500, multi-national corporate clients and mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 10,000 multi-cultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 85 countries, 24/7, 365 days.
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