The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has revealed that 14 Nigerian pilgrims died in Saudi Arabia during the 2023 hajj operations.
Usman Galadima, chief of operations and head of the NAHCON National Medical Team, disclosed this during a post-Arafat meeting with stakeholders on Sunday in Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mr Galadima explained that seven pilgrims died before Arafat, six died during the five-day Mashair (core Hajj period), and another one died after Arafat.
“We had six reported death at Mashair, four died in Arafat, and the other two died in Mina. Already we lost seven pilgrims before Arafat and just now I have just been informed that we lost another pilgrim. This brings the total of deaths recorded to 14,” the NAHCON official explained.
He added, “The mortality rate is similar to that of 2019.”
The Hajj official also revealed that the medical team recorded three cases of chickenpox during the core hajj period, and the affected pilgrims were immediately moved out of the area as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of the disease.
Mr Galadima also mentioned that the team recorded two deliveries during the Hajj ritual in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, adding that one of the pregnant women was delivered of a baby on the road, while the second one was brought to the clinic and delivered safely.
He emphasised the need for a thorough pre-hajj medical screening with the issuance of a certificate of medical fitness, stressing that elderly pilgrims and those critically sick should be discouraged from participating in the symbolic devil stoning at Jamrat because of the stress involved.
NAHCON’s aviation head, Goni Sanda, disclosed that the transport of pilgrims back to Nigeria would begin on Tuesday.
He said the policy of first in, first out would strictly be applied in the evacuation of the pilgrims back to Nigeria and that the Saudi authorities have a policy that in the first two weeks, the air carriers would not operate fully due to the volume of traffic and a large number of aircraft involved in the evacuation of pilgrims from different countries, as well as the fact that virtually all planes will take off from one airport, the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah.