The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, known as Hajj, is the world’s largest religious mass gathering.
Despite the fact that the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent global travel restrictions had a significant influence on the number of pilgrims visiting the holy pilgrimage in the previous two years, things are finally returning to normal. According to sources, the Kingdom plans to receive approximately 850,000 foreign pilgrims in 2022, compared to 60,000 local pilgrims in 2021.
Because Hajj entails a lot of walking and brings people from all over the world together in one place to fulfil their religious obligations, intermittent outbreaks of various diseases and infections among pilgrims are rather prevalent. With the resurgence of coronavirus infections, it is more crucial than ever for pilgrims to take care of themselves and be healthy during Hajj.
To prevent serious epidemics, the Saudi government has made it essential for all pilgrims to have certain vaccines before obtaining a visa.
VACCINATIONS REQUIRED FOR HAJJ
While vaccinations differ per country, the following vaccines are required for Pakistanis before travelling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage:
- COVID-19 vaccine
- Meningococcal Meningitis
- Seasonal influenza
Vaccines against Hepatitis A, Pneumonia, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and Tetanus are also recommended by the Saudi government.
These vaccinations are necessary, but they do not ensure a healthy and safe Hajj pilgrimage. If you or someone you know is planning to perform the holy pilgrimage this year, here are some Hajj health tips that can be incredibly beneficial.
COVID-19 PROTOCOLS DURING HAJJ 2022
There’s no denying that Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 protocols for Hajj 2022 have been drastically eased. Pilgrims will still be forced to wear masks in the sacred cities of Makkah and Madinah under the new standards. Organizers of events and festivals, on the other hand, have the option of requiring masks if they so desire. Aside from having negative PCR tests within 72 hours of their flights, pilgrims are also asked to have a vaccination certificate on their phones to make the procedure go as smoothly as possible.
TIPS TO STAY HEALTHY DURING HAJJ 2022
Here are some essentials steps for a healthy Hajj no one should ignore:
- Drink a lot of water
- If something doesn’t taste right, don’t eat it
- Frequently wash or sanitize your hands
- Pay extra attention to hygiene
- Avoid hugging and shaking hands
- Take multivitamins
- Don’t overexert yourself
Let’s further discuss ways to stay healthy during Hajj.
DRINK A LOT OF WATER
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to avoid issues during Hajj.
According to weather forecasts, the temperature will likely remain over 40 degrees Celsius for the length of Hajj 2022 because it will take place in July. It is critical for pilgrims to drink plenty of water throughout their trek to avoid heat strokes. While packed juices are beneficial to your health, nothing surpasses the convenience of water.
In order to stay healthy during Hajj, you should ideally consume about 10 to 12 glasses of water every day.
IF SOMETHING DOESN’T TASTE RIGHT, DON’T EAT IT
During Hajj, one must be cautious about what they eat and drink.
Unfortunately, diarrhoea is the most common sickness experienced by pilgrims on this journey. Food poisoning is the most common cause of this illness, despite the fact that it can be caused by a variety of factors.
People are more likely to buy food from local sellers, which means they may consume food that is undercooked or polluted. This might cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, and diarrhoea, leaving the person exhausted and unable to walk.
The greatest approach to avoid food illness during Hajj is to be aware of your eating habits. Don’t consume poultry that is still pink or vegetables that have a strange odour. You can eat packaged and canned food instead because it has a longer shelf life and is more convenient.
Moreover, avoid fatty and deep-fried food items to maintain a balanced diet during Hajj.
FREQUENTLY WASH OR SANITIZE YOUR HANDS
Another suggestion for a healthy Hajj pilgrimage is to wash your hands as often as possible. This is especially important before and after eating, going to the restroom, coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If you need to treat a wound, make sure you wash your hands completely with soap and water before touching it, no matter how clean they appear.
If you don’t have access to a sink, have a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer in your backpack and use it as needed. This can help you stay healthy throughout Hajj by preventing germs and illnesses from spreading. It will also protect you from the coronavirus.
Additionally, because you are constantly at danger of catching an infection from other pilgrims, try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as much as possible.
PAY EXTRA ATTENTION TO HYGIENE
Personal hygiene and overall cleanliness are not only the best ways to avoid health concerns while on pilgrimage, but they are also one of the most important Hajj steps. Apart from showering frequently, changing clothing frequently, and cleaning your hands, there are a few additional things to keep in mind. When sneezing or blowing your nose, for example, always use handkerchiefs or tissue paper.
Furthermore, because pilgrims are required to have their heads shaved and their hair cut during Hajj, ensure that the barber utilises single-use shavers or swaps razors after each usage. Before the barber uses his tools on you, you should ask him to wash his hands and clean his tools.
Also, pay close attention to your oral hygiene to stay healthy during Hajj.
AVOID HUGGING AND SHAKING HANDS
For the same reason as above, people should avoid shaking hands or hugging each other. Coronavirus and influenza can spread swiftly, with the latter frequently resulting in pneumonia. Due of the large number of pilgrims from all over the world, getting medical treatment during the Hajj pilgrimage is not easy. Pat folks on the backs only if absolutely necessary.
Keep in mind that you are solely responsible for your own health during Hajj. Because you never know if another pilgrim is suffering from an air- or water-borne ailment, it’s best to keep a safe and respectful distance for the length of your stay in Saudi Arabia. During the real pilgrimage, though, you must be extremely cautious.
Do you have any ideas for an active Hajj? To begin, take some multivitamins to enhance your immune system and strengthen your body. Pilgrims might consider taking supplements containing Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium as part of their Hajj diet, in addition to maintaining good eating habits.
Vitamin C boosts your immunity while Vitamin B boosts your energy. Vitamin D and calcium are also beneficial to your bones and joints, while magnesium relieves anxiety and tension, allowing your body and heart to relax.
However, before taking any multivitamins or other medications, make sure to visit your doctor.
DON’T OVEREXERT YOURSELF
Hajj necessitates a lot of walking, which might be difficult for some people depending on the weather and their overall health. Many Muslims suffer from pre-existing heart issues because they wait until they are old to make the sacred journey. Heart attacks and other cardiovascular illnesses can result as a result of this. This is the biggest cause of mortality among pilgrims each year, according to Saudi health officials.
This isn’t to say that folks with such conditions shouldn’t go on the pilgrimage. All you have to do is remember to take your prescription on a regular basis and avoid overexerting yourself. Furthermore, despite the fact that medical facilities are few during Hajj, pilgrims should contact a doctor or medical practitioner if they develop any heart symptoms throughout their journey.
Similarly, if you have sudden chills and nausea, or simply feel disoriented, you could be experiencing a heat stroke. The treatment for a heat stroke is essentially the same no matter where you are in the world. In this case, seek shelter in the nearest shade and drench yourself in cold water. Seek medical care as soon as possible to be healthy during Hajj.