The Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued this document to address the health requirements and recommendations for visitors traveling to Saudi Arabia for the purposes of Umrah, Hajj, or seasonal works in Hajj and Umrah areas during the 1440H (2019G).
The Public Health Institute of the Republic of North Macedonia informs the citizens who travel to this year Hajj and Umra in Saudi Arabia to visit the epidemiological service at the competent Public Health Center / local unit of the place of residence to receive the necessary vaccines, such as and receive health advice for the prevention of infectious diseases.
Infectious Diseases of Importance during Hajj and Umrah
The Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requires that all travellers arriving from countries or areas at risk of yellow fever transmission (see below) must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. The Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is valid for life starting 10 days after vaccination.
Adults and children aged over 2 years arriving for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj zones, are required to submit a valid vaccination certificate with a quadrivalent (ACYW) meningococcal vaccine administered not less than 10 days prior to the planned arrival to Saudi Arabia. Vaccination with ONE of the following vaccines is acceptable:
- Quadrivalent (ACYW) polysaccharide vaccine within the last 3 years.
- Quadrivalent (ACYW) conjugate vaccine within the last 5 years. Current scientific evidence suggests that conjugate vaccines are safe and effective for those above 55 years of age. Health authorities at the pilgrim countries should ensure vaccinating their pilgrims within the required validity period and make sure that the Type of vaccine is clearly showed in the vaccination certificate. If the vaccine type is not indicated in the certificate, the certificate will be valid for 3 years.
The Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recommends that all Visitors arriving for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj zones to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza. Influenza vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, children under 5 years, the elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions (such as chronic cardiac, pulmonary, renal, metabolic, neurodevelopmental, liver or hematologic diseases) and individuals with immunosuppressive conditions (such as HIV/AIDS, receiving chemotherapy or steroids, or malignancy).
Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and other respiratory infections
Efforts to prevent MERS-CoV infections during mass gatherings such as Hajj and Umrah have been implemented. However, other viral respiratory tract infections are common. The Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recommends all arrivals for Umrah, Hajj or for seasonal work in Hajj to comply with following:
- Wash hands with soap and water or a disinfectant, especially after coughing and sneezing, after using toilets, before handling and consuming food, and after touching animals. • Use disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of used tissues in a wastebasket. • Wear regular face masks when in crowded places. • Avoid contact with those who appear ill and avoid sharing their personal belongings. • Avoid visits to and contact with camels in farms, markets, or barns. • Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk or eating raw meat or animal products that have not been thoroughly cooked
Zika Virus Disease and Dengue Fever
The Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recommends pilgrims to take necessary measures to avoid mosquito bites during the day and evening, which includes wearing protective clothing (preferably light-colored) that covers as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as window screens and closed doors; and applying insect repellent (as per the label instructions on the product) to skin or clothing that contains DEET, IR3535 or icaridin.
Food and Water-Borne Diseases
Authorities in Saudi Arabia don’t permit entry of food with arrivals for Hajj and Umrah except that in small quantities and in properly canned or sealed containers. The Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recommends all pilgrims to observe the following: • Wash hands before and after eating and after going to the toilet. • Thoroughly clean and wash fresh vegetables and fruit. • Food should be cooked thoroughly • Food should be kept at safe temperatures • Raw and cooked food should be kept separated
The Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recommends all pilgrims, especially older individuals, to avoid direct sun exposure while performing rituals and to drink sufficient amount of fluids. Countries are requested to provide education on health-related illness to their pilgrims prior to travel. Medications that can exacerbate dehydration (e.g. diuretics) or interfere with heat exchange may need adjustment by treating physicians.
The Public Health Institute recommends to its citizens planning a trip to Hajj and Umra to visit their family doctor and to seek advice and recommendations for health protection during the journey, taking into their current state of health. If needed in a chronic illness or a specific condition of the organism, visit an appropriate specialist before the trip.
Upon returning from Hajj / Umra, if any develop fever or symptoms of respiratory illness within 14 days, immediately call a doctor and give information about the recent trip.