Hajj and Umrah in 2018

Released: June 07, 2018

What is the Hajj or Umrah?

The Hajj is the spiritual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest annual mass gathering in the world, with over two million participants every year. The Hajj takes place from the 8th to the 12th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar every year. This year, millions are expected to gather in Mecca to make the pilgrimage between August 19 and 24, 2018.

Umrah is a similar pilgrimage that can be carried out at any time of the year, unlike the Hajj which is only performed over specific days.

Why should you be concerned?

Large crowds in small areas can increase your risk of getting sick and/or being injured. Pilgrims performing the Hajj may be at risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), diphtheria and cholera. There is currently an extensive outbreak of Cholera in Africa and Western Asia including the country of Yemen, which shares a border with Saudi Arabia. Yemen is also experiencing an outbreak of diphtheria. See the travel health notice Diphtheria: Global update for more information. Also, note that cases of MERS-CoV are still being reported in Saudi Arabia and other countries, mostly located in the Arabian Peninsula.

How can you protect your health during the Hajj or Umrah?

Before our trip:

All travellers should see a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic, preferably 6 weeks before travel. Find a travel health clinic near you.

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health recommends that children, pregnant women and epileptic patients whose illness cannot be controlled with medication postpone attending the Hajj.

During your trip:

Be aware of your surroundings. Hajj is one of the largest mass gatherings in the world.

Protect yourself against food or waterborne infections by eating and drinking safely during Hajj or Umrah.

Protect yourself from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) while you are travelling.

Protect yourself and others from the spread of germs and flu-like illnesses.

Follow sun and heat safety tips. Heat-related illnesses and dehydration are common during the Hajj and Umrah.

Drive with caution. The leading cause of death among international travellers is traffic accidents.

Protect yourself from insect bites at all times.

Monitor your health.

When you return to Canada:

See a health care professional if you develop symptoms such as fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, vomiting or diarrhea.

If you notice these symptoms during the flight, tell the flight attendant before you land, or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess your symptoms.

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