A civil society organisation, CSO, that reports hajj and umrah activities, Independent Hajj Reporters, IHR, has called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, state Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards/Agencies, as well as private hajj and umrah tour operators to devise a uniform national enlightenment programme on the prevention of coronavirus for Hajj 2020 intending pilgrims.
The call is contained in a statement jointly signed by the national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, on Monday in Abuja.
The statement said state Muslim pilgrims boards were currently holding enlightenment and education programmes for Hajj 2020 intending pilgrims in their various camps or designated areas.
The CSO said NAHCON needed to ensure that such programmes encompassed ‘how to prevent coronavirus’ and educate the pilgrims on the dos and don’ts on how to prevent the disease.
“Prevention is key and the best way to prevent this borderless infectious disease is to enlighten intending pilgrims. This call becomes imperative given the pro-active steps being taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia especially the banning of umrah and other strict measures being put in place to control and possibly eliminate coronavirus from the land of the two holy mosques.
“Pilgrims should also be educated against unnecessary panic and apprehension as such may have a serious negative impact on those who intend to register for Hajj 2020 exercise.
“Medical experts should be contracted to enlighten intending pilgrims at this early stage and measures should be put in place to detect any cases. Coronavirus is now being adjudged as a crowd threatening infectious disease and Hajj is the largest gathering event with millions of people from over 180 countries in one place.
“This year’s pilgrim’s enlightenment and education should involve a process of equipping intending pilgrims and other Hajj stakeholders on the need to increase control over their health and also upgrade health literacy efforts to increase healthy behaviours,” the statement added.