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.
- Make sure your routine vaccines and adult boosters, including measles, are up-to-date.
- Pack a travel health kit and consider purchasing travel insurance.
- Find out more about the Registration of Canadians Abroad service so that Canadian counsular officials can contact you in case of an emergency.
- Visit the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health website for health requirements and recommendations for travellers to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah for information on required vaccinations and other health recommendations:
- the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (ACYW-135) is required for all travellers
- the polio and yellow fever vaccines are required for travellers from certain countries
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.
- Know that your risk of accidental injury increases in large crowds.
- Locate the exit routes and medical facilities.
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.
- Avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels. Camels have been found to carry and transmit MERS-CoV to humans through contact with and consumption of meat and body fluids.
- If you must visit a farm or market, make sure you practise good hygiene and wash your hands before and after contact with animals.
Protect yourself and others from the spread of germs and flu-like illnesses.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. It's a good idea to always keep some alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
- Try to avoid contact with people who appear to be sick.
- Use only new razors for shaving. Choose a barber who uses disposable, single-use blades.
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.
- For more information on road travel in Saudi Arabia, visit the Safety & Security section of the advisory for Saudi Arabia.
Protect yourself from insect bites at all times.
Monitor your health.
- If you develop flu-like symptoms during the pilgrimage (fever, cough or shortness of breath) or other symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, report your symptoms to the medical staff accompanying your group or to the local health services.
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.
- Describe your symptoms to your health care professional before your appointment, so they can take proper precautions.
- Tell your health care professional which countries you have visited.
- Also tell your health care professional if you have been in a healthcare facility while in Saudi Arabia and if you have had close contact with animals such as camels.
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.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
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