Hajj and Umrah in 2017
Updated: June 23, 2017
What is the Hajj or Umrah?
The Hajj is the spiritual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is the largest annual mass gathering in the world, with almost three million participants every year. The Hajj takes place from the 8th to the 12th days of the last month of the Islamic calendar every year. This year, the Hajj will take place between August 30th and September 4th 2017.
Umrah is a similar pilgrimage that can be carried out at any time of the year. It is often performed at the same time as the Hajj.
Why should you be concerned?
Large crowds in small areas can increase your risk of getting sick and/or being injured. Take the time to prepare for your trip and know how to reduce the risks.
How can you protect your health during the Hajj or Umrah?
Before your trip:
All travellers should see a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before travel. Find a travel health clinic near you.
- Make sure your routine vaccines and adult boosters, including measles, are up-to-date.
- Visit the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health website for information on required vaccinations and other health recommendations for the Hajj and Umrah:
- Please note that cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are still being reported in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Ministry of Health recommends that the following groups postpone their travel to the Hajj and Umrah for their own safety:
- elderly people aged 65 and older
- pregnant women
- children under 12 years of age
- people with chronic diseases (for example: diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and respiratory disease)
- people with immune deficiencies
- people with malignancy and terminal illness.
- Pack a travel health kit and consider purchasing travel health insurance.
- Find out more about the Registration of Canadians Abroad service so that Canadian consular officials can contact you in case of an emergency.
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.
- Avoid densely congested areas with limited emergency exits.
- Perform rituals during non-peak hours.
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.
Protect yourself against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) by following the recommendations in the travel health notice on MERS-CoV.
Eat and drink safely to avoid food poisoning during the Hajj.
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.
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 provider if you develop symptoms such as fever, cough and/or shortness of breath.
- Describe your symptoms to your health care provider before you make your appointment, so they can take proper precautions.
- Tell your health care provider which countries you have visited.
- Also tell your health care provider if you have been in a healthcare facility while in Saudi Arabia.
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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