Seven government agencies have worked out an integrated strategy for crowd control at the ritual stoning at Jamarat during the peak days of the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage, for which more than 2.5 million pilgrims from 160 countries are expected. The plan includes dispatching the pilgrims in groups for the ritual.
The Hajj Research Institute, an affiliate of Umm Al-Qura University, has been conducting studies on crowd management at Jamarat and has made a number of proposals to ensure smooth pilgrim flow in the area. Movement of pilgrims inside the Jamarat area will be closely monitored through closed-circuit television, and pilgrims will be asked to leave the area quickly after completing their ritual. Special arrangements have been made to rescue pilgrims trapped in stampedes or fainting as a result of overcrowding.
The Ministry of Pilgrimage will coordinate with Tawafa organizations to arrange access to the Jamarat only in small groups; the Department of Public Security will control the pilgrims’ movements; the municipality of Makkah will ensure cleanliness in the area; the Civil Defense Department is responsible for rescue operations; the Saudi Red Crescent Society will transport the injured to hospitals; and the Ministry of Health will make arrangements to provide medical services.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has intensified measures for disease prevention and control at all entry points, with 1,028 doctors and paramedical staff deployed to carry out inspections. So far, the incidence of infectious diseases in the pilgrimage areas is within normal range. Pilgrims from areas earlier affected by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) will be subjected to scanning that measures body temperature, the first time such cameras have been installed during Hajj. The Ministry has also posted health education materials on its website - www.moh.gov.sa - to educate pilgrims about SARS and other diseases, recommend preventive measures and issue a travel advisory. In order to prevent a meningococcal meningitis outbreak during Hajj, vaccination is mandatory for all pilgrims. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is also required for people from countries where the disease is endemic. Pregnant women and children - two groups highly vulnerable to infectious diseases – are advised not to make the pilgrimage.