HMC highlights precautions against infections for Umrah pilgrims
With many people traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah as part of their voluntary religious acts of worship during the holy month of Ramadan, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is reminding pilgrims to take the necessary steps to ensure they are safeguarded against infectious diseases.
Senior Consultant in Emergency Medicine at HMC, Dr. Saad Al Nuaimi Dr. Al Nuaimi, recommends the following:
- Respiratory illnesses such as throat and upper respiratory tract and lung infections are commonly contracted during Umrah. Pilgrims should follow simple ‘cough hygiene’ such as using tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, in addition to ensuring that used tissues are disposed of carefully. Washing hands frequently with soap and water, and avoiding hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible can also be very useful.
- Certain people may postpone their pilgrimage for their own safety. This includes people aged above 65 years, pregnant women and children under the age of 12 years, or anyone with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, or those with respiratory problems or immune deficiency.
- While performing Umrah, it is important to remember that daytime temperatures can be very high, so loss of body fluid through excessive sweating (dehydration) and many heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke can occur. Pilgrims should ensure they remain well hydrated, drinking plenty of clean water during Iftar and Suhoor. Other preventive steps include regularly applying high protection sunscreen (at least SPF 15), and carrying umbrellas to shade away sunlight. Whenever feasible, it is advisable to do circumambulation (Tawaf) in the evening or at night.
- The risk of trauma and injuries is heightened with the influx of pilgrims to Mecca during Ramadan. Pilgrims should avoid peak times to circumambulate and choose times when the number of people is likely to be less.
- Unclean shaving blades can transmit blood-borne viruses, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Human Immuno-deficiency virus. Therefore, male pilgrims should never share shaving blades.
- Carry medical/first aid kits, which contain plasters, dressings and painkillers in case of emergency, and take a good supply of regular medicines, copies of prescriptions, as well as a doctor’s letter that describes the pilgrim’s medical history in detail.
- If upon return any pilgrim develops an illness and notices worsening symptoms, especially a fever that is higher than 38 degrees Celsius, a cough or breathing problems, the individual should seek immediate medical assistance from any urgent care centre.
[Photo courtesy: Camera Eye via Flickr, image has been cropped]