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Haj pilgrims advised to be wary of heat

Staff Reporter/Dubai
Filed on September 12, 2015 | Last updated on September 12, 2015 at 07.42 am
"This year, pilgrims should be particularly aware of Mers Co-V, as well as be sensible in what is likely to be very hot weather."

(Reuters file photo)

Risk services company says says this year's Haj is likely to be among the hottest in the past two decades.

International SOS, a leading medical and travel security risk services company, is offering medical guidance to pilgrims ahead of this year's Haj, which it says is likely to be among the hottest in the past two decades.

Dubai Municipality to distribute 1,500 kits

The Dubai Municipality will distribute as many as 1,500 kits to Haj pilgrims.

Each kit will contain a prayer mat, dry fruits and personal care products like tooth brush, soap and first aid materials, said Shamsa Ghareeb, in charge of the awareness section at the food control department at the municipality.

The kits, according to her, will be handed over to pilgrims at the Dubai Airport's Terminal 2 and 3 as part of a joint campaign with the Dubai Health Authority and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

Initially, 100 kits were distributed to the pilgrims of Dubai Municipality. To assist the rest of the pilgrims the municipality had obtained the daily flights details from the residency and foreigners affairs directorate.

Meanwhile, the municipality and the DHA along with health institutions organised a day for conducting medical checkups for pilgrims from the UAE.

Municipality doctors have advised pilgrims to carry pain killers and other essential medications.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com

Dr. Issam Badaoui, Medical Director at International SOS, said: "This year, pilgrims should be particularly aware of Mers Co-V, as well as be sensible in what is likely to be very hot weather."

He gave the following advise to reduce the risk of contacting the virus and other communicable diseases:

> Pilgrims should maintain a high level of personal hygiene and wash hands frequently with soap and water.

> Keep a safe distance from people who are coughing, sneezing or appear to be sick.

> Contact with live animals and their environment should be avoided, particularly camels.

> Fruits and vegetables should be washed well. Meat should be thoroughly cooked and pilgrims should only choose dairy items from pasteurised milk.

> Pilgrims should only go to registered barbers at officially designated centres, with disposable, single-use razor blades.

> Pilgrims should ensure their routine and mandatory vaccinations are up-to-date. All travellers are required to submit a certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent meningitis vaccine in order to receive a Haj visa. Some travellers also need to show proof of yellow fever or polio vaccination. Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended prior to travel.

Dr. Issam Badaoui continued: "With average temperatures above 35.5 degrees centigrade in Makkah during September, pilgrims should also be aware of the potential health effects of heat.

The body's natural cooling mechanisms can fail if a person is exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, particularly if they do not drink enough water. Heatstroke can quickly become a life-threatening emergency so it is vital that pilgrims are aware of the early signs of heat-related difficulties."

Symptoms of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, irritability, confusion, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, nausea, vision problems and fatigue.

Dr. Badaoui noted that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health has urged vulnerable groups to postpone their Haj journey this year. These groups include those with chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease, pregnant women, and those aged over 65 or under 12.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com


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