The National Hajj Commission, NAHCON, says 14 Nigerian pilgrims who travelled for this year’s exercise have died in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking during a post-Arafat meeting with stakeholders in Makkah, Usman Galadima, the commission’s chief of operations and medical team lead, said two women gave birth in Saudi Arabia.

He said three cases of chicken pox have been recorded, adding that the pilgrims have been isolated to avoid a spread.

Galadima emphasised the need for a thorough pre-hajj medical screening with the issuance of a certificate of medical fitness for intending pilgrims.

He said elderly persons and those that are very sick should be discouraged from participating in the symbolic devil stoning at Jamrat because of the stress involved.

In his remarks, Goni Sanda, the commission’s head of aviation, said airlifting pilgrims back to Nigeria will commence on July 4.

Sanda said the policy of first in, first out would be strictly applied in the evacuation of the pilgrims.

He added that the Saudi authorities have a policy that in the first two weeks, the air carriers would not operate maximally due to the volume of traffic and the large number of aircraft involved in the evacuation of pilgrims from different countries, this is also because all planes will take off from one airport–the King Abdulaziz international airport, Jeddah.