Approximately 5000 Canadians leave for the Hajj despite H1N1 fears

This year, as he does every year, Dr. Munir El-Kassem, a professor of Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, is escorting a group of 450 pilgrims – the largest Canadian contingent – to the Hajj. He said the pilgrims he leads receive an intensive Islamic course in the field.

“I go over to provide religious guidance for people not fully aware of the rituals and the meaning of the rituals,” Prof. El-Kassem said.

On concerns about H1N1, he notes that the five daily prayers include the act of cleansing the nose and mouth: the only two portals the H1N1 virus can enter the body through. Doctors suggest cleaning hands and gargling with warm salt water, and the same for the nostrils, to get rid of the H1N1 virus.