Follow these health, travel tips for safe Haj

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Follow these health, travel tips for safe Haj

Pilgrims will perform religious duties from August 30 to Sept 4

By Staff Report

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Published: Wed 16 Aug 2017, 11:51 AM

Last updated: Tue 22 Aug 2017, 5:33 PM

International SOS and Control Risks has issued travel, health and safety tips for Haj travellers. And paying heed to them will really help.
Around 2 million foreign and domestic pilgrims are expected to perform their religious duties in Mecca between August 30 and September 4. Many of them will also be travelling to Medina in the weeks before and after the pilgrimage.

Local authorities have been bracing for the busy period. Transportation and other facilities have been put in place for the pilgrims.

James Bird, regional security manager at International SOS and Control Risks in Dubai, says: "Every year, we help members from around the world to prepare for Haj. We remind those familiar with travel to Saudi Arabia that this will be an unusually busy period with potential travel delays, and we advise them to anticipate heightened security at transport hubs and increased congestion on certain overland travel routes."
He adds, "We also reassure first-time travellers that the local authorities are very well prepared to manage the influx of pilgrims - mainly through the designated Haj terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) - and that they should always comply with legal, religious and cultural conventions throughout their time in the Kingdom."

International SOS and Control Risks advises travellers to reconfirm appointments, accommodation and travel arrangements during the busy Hajj and Eid Al Adha period, to minimise any inconvenience due to increased demand. The official Eid Al Adha holiday is expected to take place between August 31 and September 3, during which government offices, banks and other businesses will be closed, the release says.

International SOS also issues health tips each year, to help travellers during their stay in the holy city.

Dr Issam Badaoui, medical director of assistance at International SOS in Dubai, says,"Over the past few weeks, we have been helping members preparing for Haj to stay on top of all vaccination requirements and health tips."

All pilgrims have to present proof of the quadrivalent meningitis vaccination, and those from exposed countries should show proof of yellow fever and polio vaccinations. It is also highly recommended that travellers get a seasonal flu shot and ensure all other routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling for Haj.

Pilgrims should seek medical attention if they develop moderate-to-severe respiratory issues within two weeks of leaving the Kingdom, preferably by contacting medical institutions before visiting them in person, the International SOS points out.

Dr Badaoui adds: "To avoid the spread of bacteria or infections, pilgrims 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."

Pilgrims have also been advised to avoid contact with animals, especially camels and their products, and to protect against mosquito bites by using effective repellent and wearing protective clothing.

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