British doctor with 15 Hajj trips shares top tips

British doctor with 15 Hajj trips shares top tips
Dr. Imran Zia, clinical director for emergency medicine at Barts Health NHS Trust, has accompanied British groups on Hajj as both a medical expert and a guide at least 15 times. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 June 2022

British doctor with 15 Hajj trips shares top tips

British doctor with 15 Hajj trips shares top tips
  • Use umbrellas, sunscreen and stay indoors in the afternoons if you can to avoid summer heat, says Dr. Imran Zia
  • “Carry important medication in hand and hold luggage, with repeat prescriptions, covering letters,” he advised

LONDON: A British Muslim doctor on Thursday shared his tried and tested tips with pilgrims who are about to participate in the first post-pandemic Hajj open to foreigners, which includes preparing for the intense summer heat, and carrying important medicines.

Dr. Imran Zia, clinical director for emergency medicine at Barts Health NHS Trust, has accompanied British groups on Hajj as both a medical expert and a guide at least 15 times.

During a webinar hosted by the Council of British Hajjis, the veteran health worker explained how pilgrims should prepare for summer temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.

“Umbrellas are very useful, especially in the heat and the temperature at the moment is likely to be between 40 and 45 degrees. We are not used to such high temperatures in the UK and I would encourage you to wear light colors and use sunscreen. Avoid going out in the afternoon if you can,” Zia said.

As the Hajj involves a lot of walking between the holy sites in the scorching heat, Zia advised pilgrims to break-in the footwear they plan to use.

“Please walk in the sandals that you are going to take with you. Every year we see people buying a new pair of sandals, taking them to Saudi Arabia, and then getting blisters. You need to wear in those sandals now.

“If you feel that the soles of your feet are going to give you problems, then I’d encourage you to buy good quality insoles, and glue them to the inside of your sandal. You’ll find that that will give you an immense amount of relief. It’s like you’re walking on air.

“If you’re diabetic, I would discourage you from taking flip-flops as they encourage infections, skin breakages, sweatiness, and will likely give you problems. So it’s better to get sandals with straps that you can secure,” the medical professional said.

Zia also addressed the notorious Hajj cough that many pilgrims get due to the dry and dusty environment and the fact that people from all over the world have gathered in one place.

“With the Hajj cough, which unfortunately many people get, the onset is pretty rapid. It comes on very suddenly and your temperature will go up and down. You will have a pronounced headache and it’s really quite severe. Having a sore throat is very common. It’s a dry cough and you’ll feel really achy, like you’ve been hit by a bus,” Zia said.

“Unfortunately, there is no medicinal tablet I can recommend that you take other than using simple measures such as paracetamol to keep the temperature down, lozenges to help with the sore throat, gargling with saltwater, and having a rest.”

He said the best way to prevent getting the Hajj cough is to wear a face mask, keep one’s mouth covered, and practice good hygiene.

“If you see someone coughing, keep your distance,” the doctor said.

He also highlighted the importance of pilgrims taking a sufficient amount of medicine for those who have existing health conditions.

“Take plenty of medication. One thing I will say about medication is that you should take it in your hand luggage. Also pack some in your hold luggage. And if it’s really important medication that you do not want to get lost, pack it with the person who’s accompanying you as well, with a covering letter,” Zia said.

“Some medications, especially for cancer or diabetes are just not available. Take a repeat prescription with you so that if you do become ill, people know what medication you’re on. If you have a serious condition, I will always encourage you to take the name of your hospital consultant, the hospital consultant’s contact number or the secretary of their department, and your hospital number with you.”

He also advised people who usually wear contact lenses to avoid doing so during the pilgrimage and to pack a spare pair of spectacles.

“I would encourage all of you to avoid contact lenses, if possible. It’s likely that you’re going to be awake for many hours in the dusty environments and suffer from lack of sleep. The last thing you want to do is to get an eye infection. And take a spare pair of spectacles,” Zia said.

Lastly, the doctor shared his golden list of “Ps”:

Prescription list, of all prescribed medication

Patient details with contact numbers, especially if you have an ongoing problem

Paracetamol will help reduce a temperature

Plasters for blisters 

Petroleum jelly (unscented) will ease chafing between the legs

Penicillin/antibiotic if you can obtain this medication


Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media

Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media
Updated 17 August 2022

Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media

Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa will return next week — local media
  • Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the first Sri Lankan president to quit mid-term, is temporarily sheltering in Thailand
  • Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comment since leaving Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa will return to the island nation next week after fleeing in July amid mass protests, local broadcaster Newsfirst reported on Wednesday, citing a former ambassador.
Udayanga Weeratunga, a former Sri Lankan envoy to Russia who is related to Rajapaksa, said he will arrive in Sri Lanka on Aug. 24, Newsfirst reported.
Rajapaksa, the first Sri Lankan president to quit mid-term, is temporarily sheltering in Thailand, after fleeing Sri Lanka on a military plane to the Maldives and then spending weeks in Singapore.
He resigned from office soon after arriving in Singapore, facing public anger over his government’s handling of Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.
Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comment since leaving Sri Lanka. Reuters was not able to immediately contact him or Weeratunga.
The office of Rajapaksa’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who suggested last month that the former president refrain from returning to Sri Lanka in the near future, did not immediately respond for a request for comment.
“I don’t believe it’s the time for him to return,” Wickremesinghe told the Wall Street Journal in an interview on July 31. “I have no indication of him returning soon.”

Myanmar junta hits back at ASEAN after being barred from meetings

Myanmar junta hits back at ASEAN after being barred from meetings
Updated 17 August 2022

Myanmar junta hits back at ASEAN after being barred from meetings

Myanmar junta hits back at ASEAN after being barred from meetings
  • ASEAN has barred Myanmar’s generals from attending regional meetings
  • Junta has declined offers to send non-political representatives instead to ASEAN meetings

Myanmar’s military leadership on Wednesday lashed out at the ASEAN grouping of Southeast Asian countries for excluding its generals from regional gatherings, accusing it of caving to “external pressure.”
Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have heaped condemnation on Myanmar’s junta, which they say has failed to make concrete progress on a peace plan agreed with the 10-nation bloc last year, including engaging with opponents and a cessation of hostilities.
Myanmar’s military seized power from an elected government in a coup last year, and has since then crushed dissent with lethal force. Most recently, the junta has been criticized for executing political activists and imprisoning Aung San Suu Kyi, the symbol of Myanmar’s opposition and democracy movement.
ASEAN has barred Myanmar’s generals from attending regional meetings, and some members said last month it would be forced to rethink the way forward unless the junta demonstrates progress on the peace plan.
The junta has declined offers to send non-political representatives instead to ASEAN meetings.
“If a seat representing a country is vacant, then it should not be labelled an ASEAN summit,” junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said at a routine news conference on Wednesday, adding that Myanmar was working on implementing the peace plan.
“What they want is for us to meet and talk with the terrorists,” he said, using the junta’s label for pro-democracy movements that have taken up arms against the military.
He said ASEAN was violating its own policy of non-interference in a country’s sovereign affairs while facing “external pressure,” but did not elaborate.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, which is currently chairing ASEAN, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Several western countries including the United States and Britain have imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s junta over the coup.


Lesotho inaugurates Saudi Arabia-funded $11.2 million water supply project

Lesotho inaugurates Saudi Arabia-funded $11.2 million water supply project
Updated 17 August 2022

Lesotho inaugurates Saudi Arabia-funded $11.2 million water supply project

Lesotho inaugurates Saudi Arabia-funded $11.2 million water supply project

DUBAI: Lesotho has inaugurated a $11.2 million water supply project that will supply clean water to five cities in the south African country.

Funded by the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), the project aims to sustain water resources and provide clean water sources in Lesotho as well as mitigate effects of drought in the country to ensure water and food security.

The undertaking will see the laying of a 210-kilometer-long pipe network and the construction of 25 pumping stations.

Saudi Arabia, through the SFD, supports developing countries achieve their development goals by providing grants, technical aid as well soft loans and since its inception in 1975 has provided 730 development loans to finance 692 development projects and programs in 84 developing countries.


Rohingya refugees in India’s capital to be given flats, security

Rohingya refugees in India’s capital to be given flats, security
Updated 17 August 2022

Rohingya refugees in India’s capital to be given flats, security

Rohingya refugees in India’s capital to be given flats, security
  • There have been isolated incidents of violence toward Rohingya in India

NEW DELHI: Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in India’s capital will be allotted apartments and provided with police protection, a government minister said on Wednesday, signalling a change in the stance toward members of the Muslim minority.
“India has always welcomed those who have sought refuge,” Minister for Housing and Urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter, outlining new provisions for Rohingya refugees in New Delhi.
“India respects & follows UN Refugee Convention 1951 & provides refuge to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed,” Puri said.
Puri did not elaborate on what he said would be “round-the- clock” police protection but there have been isolated incidents of violence toward Rohingya in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has previously tried to send back members of the Muslim minority from predominately Buddhist Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled from persecution and waves of violence in their homeland over the years.


South Korea president says any talks with Pyongyang should be more than show

South Korea president says any talks with Pyongyang should be more than show
Updated 17 August 2022

South Korea president says any talks with Pyongyang should be more than show

South Korea president says any talks with Pyongyang should be more than show
  • Yoon Suk-yeol repeats his willingness to provide phased economic aid to North Korea

SEOUL: Talks with North Korea should not be for political show but contribute to establishing peace, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday, speaking at a wide-ranging press conference to mark his first 100 days in office.
Yoon repeated his willingness to provide phased economic aid to North Korea if it ended nuclear weapons development and began denuclearization, noting that he had called for a dialogue with Pyongyang since his campaign.
“Any dialogue between the leaders of the South and North, or negotiations between main working-level officials, should not be a political show, but should contribute to establishing substantive peace on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia,” he said.
The comments were an apparent criticism of a series of summits involving his predecessor Moon Jae-in, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and then-US President Donald Trump.
Despite those meetings, denuclearization talks stalled in 2019 and North Korea has said it will not trade away its self-defense, though it has called for an end to sanctions. It has been observed preparing for a possible nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.
South Korea was not in a position to guarantee the North’s security if it gave up its nuclear weapons, but Seoul did not want a forced change in the status quo in the North, Yoon said.
The North’s recent missile tests and nuclear development has revived debate over whether the South should pursue its own nuclear weapons. Yoon said that he was committed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and working with the United States to boost its “extended deterrence” for South Korea.
“The NPT should not be abandoned and I will adhere to that until the end,” he said.