Hajj 2019: KSA SETS FRESH MEDICAL REGULATIONS
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)’s Ministry of Health has issued health regulatory guidelines for
Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and other travellers into the Kingdom for the 1440 Hajj season.
Based on World Health Organization’s (WHO) report of May 2019, citizens from countries
exposed to the following diseases must be vaccinated against such and are required to present
attestation of the said vaccination at the point of arrival into the Kingdom. The diseases are
YELLOW FEVER and POLIOMYELITIS. In addition, all means of transportation from the
affected countries must be disinfected before traveling into the Kingdom. For travellers exiting
countries exposed to DENGUE FEVER and ZIKA VIRUS, apart from disinfection of transport
carriages by relevant authorities in line with international patterns, citizens are mandated to
avoid exposure to mosquitoes prior to their journey to Saudi Arabia.
Various advisory guidelines were also issued; among them is the preference for vaccination
against SEASONAL INFLUENZA to be administered 10 days before arriving in Saudi Arabia.
With respect to the commonly experienced INFECTION OF UPPER RESPIRATORY SYSTEM,
health authorities in Saudi Arabia warned travellers against contact with animals especially
camels, avoiding direct contact with symptomatic persons and shunning untreated milk as well
as half cooked meat. The health authorities also encourage observation of general hygiene
especially constant washing of the hands before and after food and after toilet usage,
observing crowd and sneezing etiquettes are highly recommended too.
Consequently, to eliminate chances of spreading water and food-borne diseases,
transportation of food items into the Kingdom is prohibited except for canned foods in small
quantities for personal consumption. These too must be transparently packaged. Moreover,
pilgrims are advised not to eat foods cooked and kept for long without being refrigerated. They
are advised to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption and drink lots of
water to prevent heat stroke. Also, it is advised to stay away from direct sunrays by using
umbrellas and remaining under shades.
The Saudi Ministry of Health reassures pilgrims and other travellers that in case of a disease
outbreak or any other health emergency, the Kingdom’s authorities, in collaboration with
W.H.O, will take additional measures to contain it. Therefore, each participating country’s
medical mission is advised to isolate a room where ambiguous infectious disease carriers will
be secluded and compulsorily reported to the Saudi authorities. Other infectious diseases are
to be reported as well.
It will be recalled that NAHCON strongly advises that only medically fit persons should register
for the Hajj exercise. This is reiterated by Saudi Arabia in its counsel to person carrying severe
illnesses and physically weak individuals, such as the aged and pregnant women, to reconsider
participating in the Hajj exercise that is known to be generally strenuous. However, persons
with terminal illnesses who insist on travelling for Hajj are advised to carry along medical items
relevant to their condition, plus adequate drugs in original packets to be complemented by
prescription letters by medical doctors in government hospitals.
Most of the guidelines are in conformity with those of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health
(FMH), another member of World Health Organization. This is reason why FMH has been
facilitating free inoculations to pilgrims and other international travellers, plus coordinating
enlightenment on relevance of these vaccines. FMH also conducts periodic inspection of
aircrafts and others to safeguard health of travellers coming in and out of the country. Besides,
in collaboration with FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria), FMH has placed medical
health warning devices in strategic locations in the country’s international airports to alert
health workers on unusual medical symptoms.
Fatima Sanda Usara
Head, Public Affairs,
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