PHE England Advice for Hajj Pilgrims

Hajj pilgrims to be aware of MERS-CoV advice

PHE remind pilgrims to refer to the health and travel advice for Hajj and Umrah.

Public Health England (PHE) is reminding Hajj pilgrims to be aware of the risk of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Middle East.

The risk of infection to UK residents travelling to the Middle East remains very low and PHE, NaTHNaC and the World Health Organization do not currently advise any travel restrictions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in relation to MERS-CoV.

However, the KSA Ministry of Health is recommending the following groups to postpone the performance of the Hajj and Umrah as a precautionary measure again this year:

  • those with long-term diseases (such as heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, nervous system disorders and diabetes)
  • pregnant women and children

In KSA, cases of MERS-CoV occur throughout the year. There is growing evidence that camels can be a source of infection. MERS-CoV can also spread person-to-person if there is close contact. It is important to practice good hand hygiene including covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, using tissue or the upper sleeve, and washing your hands with soap and water regularly.

Dr Gavin Dabrera, MERS-CoV expert at PHE, said:

“We advise travellers to avoid contact with camels and consumption of camel products in the Middle East and to practise good hand hygiene.”

“Pilgrims who experience symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of returning from Hajj and Umrah should call their GP or NHS 111 and inform them of their recent travel.”



Notes to editors:

  1. The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), known as the Hajj, is due to take place between 19 to 24 August this year, with many pilgrims travelling from the UK
  2. General travel health advice for travellers going to Saudi Arabia is available from NaTHNaC’s website TravelHealthPro
  3. See PHE’s information on MERS-CoV.
  4. Health advice posters can be found here:
  5. For more information, comment or media interviews, please contact the Public Health England press office on 020 8327 7901 or [email protected]
  6. Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. We do this through world-leading science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. We are an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, and a distinct delivery organisation with operational autonomy to advise and support government, local authorities and the NHS in a professionally independent manner.