HEALTH AND SECURITY ADVICE IN ADVANCE OF HAJJ
International SOS, the world’s leading medical and security risk services company, is providing advice on health preparations for Hajj in Saudi Arabia, as well as important tips for business travellers to the region during the pilgrimage this month.
More than 3 million foreign and domestic pilgrims are expected to perform their religious duties in Mecca, Mina, Arafat & Muzdalifah between 9-14 August, with many also travelling to Medina in the weeks before and after the pilgrimage. Hundreds of thousands of travellers will have already arrived in Saudi Arabia, and local authorities and transportation hubs have been preparing for the busy period ahead with emergency and contingency plans.
Thorough preparation can help travellers stay safe and healthy before, during and after their journey.
International SOS top travel advice tips during Hajj:
● Before you go:
- Ensure you comply fully with all government requirements.
- You should have seen your doctor already to receive routine, recommended and required vaccinations and necessary documentation for entry. Don’t forget a flu shot and to check your measles immunity – there are outbreaks in many locations around the world being spread by travellers from one location to another.
- Ensure any health issues are stabilised. If you need any medications, pack enough for the trip, with some extra in case of delays. Some medications are NOT permitted - ensure you comply with the very strict rules about bringing in medication.
- Save emergency contacts on your mobile phone and make sure it is charged (contacts to include police, ambulance, embassy, local contacts etc.).
- Travellers with tourist and business visas should check their bookings prior to travel, as there may be some restrictions on entry into certain airports, particularly Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport.
● While in Saudi Arabia:
- Monitor the situation – remain abreast of the latest news and recommendations.
- Comply with all instructions issued by the authorities and exercise heightened caution in regards to religious and cultural sensitivities.
- 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.
- Be aware that you may be given polio vaccination and a dose of medication against meningococcal disease on arrival (even if you have documentation of these vaccinations).
- Stay well hydrated to avoid heat stroke.
- Pay attention to hygiene – keep your distance from people who are sick, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- Select safer food and beverages – Use bottled water. Wash fruits and vegetables well. Ensure any meat is thoroughly cooked, avoid non-pasteurised dairy items.
- Avoid direct contact with animals, including camels. A potentially severe illness caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is present in camels and their products.
Mazen Jomaa, Regional Security Manager at International SOS in Dubai, said:
“The Hajj & Eid Al Adha period will see a large influx of pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia. So, whether travelling on business or as a pilgrim yourself preparations for generalised travel disruption are required during this busy period. While local authorities are very well prepared to manage this through the designated Hajj terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport – it is vital that travellers also take responsibility of their own safety and security.”
Dr. Firas Ayash, Senior Medical Assistance Doctor at International SOS in Dubai, advises:
“One of the key things to remember is to carry the necessary vaccination documents to ensure smooth entry. There are a number of known diseases prevalent in the region that can be managed with practical attention to hygiene. It is also important to implement wellness measures to protect against any risk of illness and be prepared to cope with environmental issues, such as the extreme heat. To avoid the spread of infections, pilgrims and visitors are advised to keep some distance from sick people and maintain a high degree of personal hygiene. Remember to 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.”
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.
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