'Haj pilgrims may contract lung infection, should take precaution'

Muslims travelling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage later this year may contract lung infection and must take necessary precaution, a doctor associated with the Karnataka State Haj Committee (KSHC) has said.

Many pilgrims, especially senior citizens, are seen to have unusually high cough and respiratory discomfort on their return from the pilgrimage. 

Dr Riyaz Basha, Deputy Registrar at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, who is also associated with the KSHC, said that cough was found to be the most common symptom, even though a comprehensive study was yet to be carried out to classify the type of respiratory ailment among Haj pilgrims. 

Doctors and paramedics accompany pilgrims in the ratio of 1:1,000. These doctors not only screen patients at the Haj camp at the makeshift hospital set up the Khuddus Saheb Eidgah in Bengaluru but also accompany them on the tour.

“That is to ensure medical help is available round the clock,” Dr Basha said. The team will also have paramedical and nursing staff. If needed, they would co-ordinate with nearby hospitals to help the pilgrims. 

As a measure of precaution, pilgrims having diabetes and kidney ailments should carry extra stock of medicine they take while travelling and be prepared to face any emergency. “One must keep basic hygiene. Since a very large number of people gather at one place, pilgrims should wash hands often, eat freshly cooked food and avoid eating cut fruits,” he added.

The pilgrims would be vaccinated as per the guidelines of the Ministry of External Affairs. 

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