MOH News

MOH Reiterates Adherence to the Health Requirements by Umrah and Hajj Pilgrims
06 July 2015
The Ministry of Health (MOH), represented by the Public Health Agency, has reiterated the importance of adhering to the health requirement that must be followed by those coming for Umrah and Hajj this year (1436H), and called on them to take the quadrivalent meningococcal (ACYW135) vaccination in addition to the other mandatory vaccinations required by countries affected by some infectious diseases. 
It also recommended taking the seasonal influenza vaccinations by all pilgrims, from inside and outside the Kingdom, especially those suffering from chronic diseases (heart diseases, kidney diseases, respiratory diseases, nervous system disorders and diabetes), and immunodeficiency patients (congenital and acquired), metabolic diseases, pregnant women, children under 5 and obese persons.
Also, the Ministry advised patients with chronic diseases and the elderly to postpone their pilgrimage, in consideration of the ability provision, for their own safety. 
Concerning Ebola procedures, the MOH will continue to suspend issuing entry visas for those coming from Guinea and Sierra Leone to the Kingdom, because the World Health Organization (WHO) is still confirming spread of the hemorrhagic fever epidemic (Ebola) there. 
The MOH Spokesman, Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Marghalani, explained that the Ministry closely follows up the latest epidemiological developments through a national scientific committee which monitors the developments of the diseases at the national and international levels, and all concerned bodies will be notified of any amendments to the requirements. He pointed out that this year’s health requirements focused on several axes; yellow fever, meningitis, polio, and anti-seasonal influenza vaccination.
He further highlighted that the yellow fever-affected countries are: Angola, Benin, Sudan, South Sudan, Senegal, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Cameron, Burundi, Chad, Uganda, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Mauritania, Rwanda. Southern and Central America countries are: Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Brazil, Bolivia, Suriname, Peru, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, and Paraguay.  
He noted that those coming from the countries affected by the yellow fever must submit, in accordance with the international health regulations, a valid vaccination certificate against the disease stating that the person was vaccinated at least 10 days before his arrival in the Kingdom. Also aircrafts, ships and various means of transportation coming from the countries which were declared affected by the yellow fever, are required to submit a valid certificate stating the extermination of insects (mosquitos) on board.
Concerning meningitis, the requirements provided that every Hajj or Umrah pilgrim, as well as those coming for seasonal work at the Hajj areas from any country, must submit a valid vaccination certificate against meningitis, testifying his vaccination against the disease (before arriving in the Kingdom) within at least ten days' period and not exceeding three years, as a precondition for obtaining a visa for Hajj, Umrah or seasonal work. The health authority in the pilgrim's homeland should ensure that all pilgrims were given one dose of the quadrivalent polysaccharide (ACYW135) vaccine.
As for arrivals from the African Belt countries (Sudan, South Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Benin, Cameron, Chad, Eritrea, Gambia, Senegal and Central Africa Republic), in addition to their vaccination in their respective countries, they will be given the preventive medicine at the Kingdom's ports of entry.  
So far as polio is concerned, the spokesman said the arrivals from the following countries: (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameron, Ethiopia, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Palestine [Gaza Strip, the West Band, and 48 Arabs], Guinea, Iraq, Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan and Madagascar) shall submit an oral polio vaccination certificate six weeks prior to their arrival in the Kingdom. And they are to be given another dose of the oral polio vaccine upon their arrival in the Kingdom, regardless of their age.
Dr. Mirghalani further expounded that the Ministry of Health advises all arrivals for Hajj or Umrah to be vaccinated with the seasonal influenza vaccine, especially those suffering from chronic diseases (heart diseases, kidney disease, respiratory diseases, nervous system disorders and diabetes), and immunodeficiency patients (congenital and acquired), metabolic diseases, pregnant women, children (under 5 years) and obese persons.
Also, the health authorities of the countries from which the pilgrims arrive have been urged to enlighten their pilgrims about the infectious disease, (their types, symptoms, transmission ways, complications and prevention means).
As a precautionary measure, the MOH has advised the elderly and those with chronic diseases (heart diseases, kidney disease, respiratory diseases, nervous system disorders and diabetes) and immunodeficiency patients (congenital and acquired), metabolic diseases, pregnant women and children to postpone their pilgrimage for their own safety. Also, the Ministry advises for adherence to the health requirements to curb the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and other respiratory diseases, which include regularly washing hands with soap and water or disinfectants, especially after coughing and sneezing, using disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing and dropping them in the trash, trying as much as possible to avoid hand contact with eyes, nose and mouth, avoiding direct contact with the infected persons or use of their personal gadgets, wearing masks, especially when in crowded places, avoiding direct contact with camels and staying away from their gathering places, in addition to avoiding drinking camel milk unless it is pasteurized or boiled, or eating their undercooked meat.   
Al Mirghalani confirmed that, due to the ongoing spread of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Guinea and Sierra Leone in Western Africa, issuance of entry visas for those coming from these countries to perform Hajj and Umrah, or for any other purpose, will continue to be suspended. In addition to that Saudi embassies and consulates should make sure that all applicants for entry visa to KSA have not visited the abovementioned affected countries within the last 3 weeks before their application for visas, either for Hajj or Umrah or any other purpose.
He pointed out that the MOH recommends abiding by the following health advices to curb the risk of developing the Ebola fever including, avoiding direct contact with confirmed or suspected cases, avoid use of tools contaminated with the blood or fluids of the infected case, and for a person who lived in places of recent reports of cases must be aware of the symptoms and seek medical care immediately at the first sign of the symptoms. 
Concluding his statement, Dr. Mirghalani indicated that, in the event of occurrence of a health emergency of international concern or occurrence of any disease outbreaks under the international health regulations in the countries from which Hajj and Umrah pilgrims come, the authorities in Saudi Arabia may take additional preventive precautions against arrival from these countries (not included in the measures mentioned above) following consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent the prevalence of infection among and Hajj and Umrah performers or transfer them to their countries.

Last Update : 08 July 2015 01:50 PM
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