This website is intended for healthcare professionals


Hajj pilgrims urged to prioritise respiratory hygiene measures

The UKHSA is reminding Hajj and Umrah pilgrims to prioritise Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) safety measures when travelling to the Middle East

Large gatherings such as Hajj and Umrah are associated with unique health risks and travellers should practise good general health measures, such as regular hand washing with soap and water, to reduce the spread of infections. NaTHNaC provides travel health advice for pilgrims attending Hajj.

MERS-CoV is a respiratory virus which causes fever, coughing and shortness of breath. It is primarily spread from animals, particularly camels, to humans, but can also spread from person to person.

To read more on this subject, visit:

Hajj pilgrims urged to be aware of travel advice

Guidance about MERS for pilgrims

MERS-CoV: an emerging disease


‘Travellers are strongly urged to refrain from contact with camels and consuming camel products while in the KSA or the Middle East, and to prioritise maintaining proper hand and respiratory hygiene to reduce the risk of infections spreading,’ said Dr Richard Puleston, lead for MERS-CoV at UKHSA.

The likelihood of infection with MERS-CoV among UK residents travelling to the Middle East is very low and no travel restrictions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are currently advised in relation to MERS-CoV. However, to minimise the risk of contracting MERS-CoV or any other respiratory infections including COVID-19, all travellers – particularly those with long-term medical conditions – should practise good general health measures, such as regular hand washing with soap and water, especially after visiting farms, barns or market areas in the Middle East.

‘For individuals returning from Hajj and Umrah, if you experience symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath within 14 days of leaving the KSA or the Middle East, please contact your GP or NHS 111 without delay and inform them about your recent travel history,’ added Dr Puleston.