The following is a message from Dar El Salam Travel, our Hajj provider – for questions about the Hajj program and potential impacts please see https://www.darelsalam.ca/
There have been concerns regarding the coronavirus and its impact on Hajj. We hope that this message will help alleviate some of those concerns whilst also helping you to decide the right path forward.
What is Coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China and cases can now be found in many countries around the world.
→ Learn more about the virus, how it spreads, protecting yourself and situation updates in the US and around the world. This provides a current situation report, however, it should be noted that the situation is ever-changing and we are monitoring closely and will keep inform you if there is any escalation or notable change that will impact you or your travel plans.
How will this impact Hajj?
Over the last couple of decades there have been a number of viruses that have impacted the numbers of pilgrims in Hajj, due to restrictions by the Saudi authorities to safeguard Hajj pilgrims, however, the pilgrimage itself has not been stopped or cancelled. This has been the case with the SARS virus in 2004, the Swine flu H1N1 in 2009, and the MERS virus in 2012. The Saudi authorities take the health and wellbeing of pilgrims very seriously and this has been demonstrated by the containment of these viruses and protection of the pilgrims during the immensely busy time of Hajj.
The most notable of the above viruses is the MERS-CoV, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related coronavirus. It was another novel coronavirus that emerged in 2012 and in fact it even originated in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities did well to contain the spread of the virus, whilst still ensuring that people were able to complete the pilgrimage. Their exposure and experience to this and the other viruses and the fact that they were competently contained gives us confidence in their ability to once again manage the situation and deliver a safe and healthy Hajj.
You may have heard recently that the Saudi authorities have issued a temporary suspension of Umrah visas as well as restricting the Tourism visa to a select few countries. This is a positive step and will help inshaAllah contain the spread of the virus and we are hopeful that this is done in preparation to safeguard the pilgrims for the upcoming Hajj.
It should also be noted that at this time, there are no travel advisories issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US or by the Ministry of Health in Canada or the UK, against travel to Saudi Arabia for Umrah or Hajj. Furthermore, there is no known case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Saudi Arabia so far.
As Hajj is several months away, it is too early for us or even the Saudi authorities to say anything definitively regarding the Hajj, however, we will monitor closely and keep you posted with any developments as they come.
Dar El Salam Travel and Hajj Health
The safety and health of our guests are paramount to us. We want all of our guests to be able to enjoy a spiritual and uplifting Hajj, in a safe manner, returning home with hearts healed and in good physical health.
In order to achieve this, we take many steps including medical seminars for pilgrims and taking 5 highly experienced ER physicians that are available during Hajj to assist with any urgent care needs. In addition to this we also have our own dedicated medical clinic in Mina where patients can be seen and treated accordingly.
We have a strong relationship with the State Department as well as the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, particularly with regards to Hajj, and will maintain contact to discuss any health concerns to American citizens.
Your health and safety is of paramount importance to us. We understand the magnitude of this situation and have decided to extend our current cancellation policy of only CAD 700 per person until March 30. This should give you confidence and peace of mind and allow us some time to monitor the fast changing situation and keep you informed.
We highly recommend that you obtain travel insurance as a precautionary measure and please do read the terms of the policy for the insurance you are purchasing to ensure that it covers you for cancellation at any time or for trip interruption, whether it be due to individual concerns or decisions made by the authorities.
It is important that you understand the current situation and that it can change in the coming months. There have been many such testing times in the past couple of decades, including several viruses, floods and fires etc, however, the Guests of Allah SWT have always been able to perform Hajj. We ask Allah SWT for His Mercy and that He grants us a safe and accepted Hajj.