Medical risk firm offers health tips for haj pilgrims

Family members and friends gathered at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 on Oct 3, 2013, for an emotional farewell to their loved ones going for their haj. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Family members and friends gathered at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 on Oct 3, 2013, for an emotional farewell to their loved ones going for their haj. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - As millions from around the world gather in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the annual Islamic haj pilgrimage, medical and travel security risk services firm International SOS has warned of the potential health risks, especially in the light of the Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) outbreaks.

The firm provided the following advice to travellers:

1. Maintain a high level of personal hygiene, including washing hands frequently with soap and water. Be sure to keep some distance from people, who are coughing, sneezing or appear to be sick

2. Avoid contact with camels or their bodily fluids. Do not visit farms or caves where bats live. Avoid unnecessary contact with live animals and their environment.

3. Choose safe food and beverages. Wash fruits and vegetables well. Ensure any meat is thoroughly cooked; choose dairy items made from pasteurised milk only.

4. Patronise only registered barbers at officially designated centres, which use disposable, single-use shaving blades.

5. Ensure your routine and mandatory vaccinations are up to date. All travellers must have had a "quadrivalent" meningitis vaccination. Some travellers also need to show proof of yellow fever or polio vaccination. Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended prior to travel.