Health Minister Mohammed Alhayazie has urged officials to ensure that all precautions are taken to check foreign Umrah pilgrims at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
“We should also provide Umrah pilgrims with the necessary health services,” the minister said, while receiving a report on the performance of the health-monitoring center at KAIA, which was presented by its director Abdul Ghani Al-Maliki.
More than 6 million foreign pilgrims are expected to arrive this year for Umrah, which is four times the number of pilgrims who come for the annual Haj.
During last year’s Haj season, the government took a series of measures to prevent an outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola viruses in the Kingdom. It did not allow entry to Hajis from Ebola-hit countries.
All pilgrims aged two years and older, who intend to undertake Haj or Umrah, and seasonal workers, are required to provide proof of vaccination against meningococcal meningitis ACW135Y to obtain a visa for entry into the Kingdom.
Meningococcal ACW135Y vaccine should be administered to pilgrims not more than three years and not less than 10 days before their arrival in the Kingdom, and should be recorded in a vaccination book showing the traveler’s full name.
All travelers arriving from polio-endemic countries, and those where there have been outbreaks including Afghanistan, Chad, Nigeria and Pakistan, regardless of age and vaccination status, should receive one dose of oral polio vaccine.
Pilgrims arriving from countries at risk of transmission of yellow fever must present a valid International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, documenting yellow fever vaccination completed in accordance with international health regulations.
The ministry recommends that international pilgrims be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before arrival in the Kingdom, particularly those at increased risk, including pregnant women, children under five years, the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions.