From the news desk

Saudi Embassy clarifies travel vaccination circular

A recent statement relating to travel vaccinations, which was issued by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in South Africa, has angered the Muslim community.  According to the statement, which was released on Friday, people who wish to obtain medical reports/vaccinations for Saudi visas will on ONLY be accepted if it is issued by the designated physician, Dr Junaid Hoosen, practicing at the Family Medical Centre in Sandton. Given the obvious logistical difficulties that the requirements pose, prospective hujjaaj and mu’tamireen have voiced their concern and anger. Following the public outcry, the Embassy retracted the original statement on Tuesday and affirmed that the information in the original statement is incorrect.

The ‘corrected’ circular reads:

“The Royal Embassy would like to clarify that the types of visas intended in the above mentioned circular are namely: work visas and residence visas. Moreover, the Family Medical Centre is NOT the only designated and accredited entity by the Royal Embassy for the Purpose of medical reports and vaccinations.”

Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, social activist, Yusuf Abramjee explains that while the original letter was dated on Friday, he received endless calls on Monday afternoon from prospective hujjaaj requesting clarity on the matter.

He says that he immediately made contact with the Royal Embassy in South Africa and was informed that reportedly an official issued the document without authorization and that the embassy will ensure that the statement be withdrawn.

“I was delighted that the embassy contacted me yesterday saying that they have withdrawn that particular statement and as we now see from the updated circular that there is no such thing that the services of only one doctor will be used and this does not apply to hajj and umrah vaccination,” Abramjee stated.

Although Hoosen’s website states that all vaccinations needs be verified through him at the cost of R50, Abramjee confirms that the embassy has denied this.

“How do you expect a person from Cape Town and other parts [of the country] to travel to Johannesburg for a medical,” he continued.

He says that while the Royal Embassy has in the past not communicated effectively, it does act swiftly when pressurized and, therefore, encourages community members to continue engaging the embassy on matters of importance.

“If you are instructed to go to [a specific] doctor, come to us [for assistance]…the latest circular is very clear.”

Meanwhile president of the South African Hajj Umrah Council (SAHUC), Shaheen Essop, explains that while SAHUC is not the official ‘spokesperson’ for the Royal Embassy, it did receive a copy of the original circular on Friday and as a result lodged an objection with the embassy, taking into consideration the direct impact the documents stated requirements may have on mu’tamireen and hujjaaj.

He confirmed that the embassy indicted that it would look into the matter and later issued a formal retraction following mounting pressure.

“Normal vaccination for yellow fever and meningitis will be status quo, with the normal doctors that you would go to. Specifically, if you are using any of the members of the South African Society of Travel Medicines and those who are licensed to issue yellow fever and meningitis [vaccinations].”

He, however, adds that more clarity is required relating to the verification of vaccinations that are issued.

Essop further affirms that the processing for hajj operators is continuing smoothly, with the closing date scheduled for Friday, 20 January 2017, at 17:00.

“We are hoping that by the end of January or early February we would be able to have a list available,” Essop continued.




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