Despite Ebola, 70,000 Nigerian Hajis coming

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
By Paul Martin

Sep 08 2014

Saudi Arabia has no plan to ban some 70,000 Nigerian pilgrims from performing Haj this year because of Ebola virus cases that have surfaced in the West African country, a senior Saudi health official said.

“We have not stopped issuing Haj visas to Nigerians and we know that about 70,000 pilgrims come from the African country every year,” said Mohammed Al-Khasheem, deputy health minister for planning and development. He said the department for preventive medicine at the ministry is in continuous contact with the WHO to stay up to date on the latest developments on the Ebola virus and other infectious diseases.

“The WHO knows the situation in Mina and Arafat during the Haj season and there is no need to worry about a few Ebola cases that have occurred in Nigeria,” he said.

Nigeria, which has reported 13 confirmed cases, with five deaths and four patients who have fully recovered, was among the first countries to declare a national emergency to contain the virus and prevent it from spreading.

“We have taken precautionary measures to prevent an Ebola outbreak in the Kingdom during the Haj season,” said Al-Khasheem. “We have made early preparations for the annual pilgrimage,” he added.

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