Despite Ebola, Saudi Allows Nigerian Pilgrims

CAIRO – In spite of the outbreak of Ebola deadly epidemic in Nigeria, Saudi authorities have allowed pilgrims from the West African country to perform hajj this year, suggesting that the smaller outbreak there was less worrying.

“We have not stopped issuing Haj visas to Nigerians and we know that about 70,000 pilgrims come from the African country every year,” Mohammed Al-Khasheem, deputy health minister for planning and development, told Arab News.

The health official added that the department for preventive medicine at the ministry is in continuous contact with the World Health Organization (WHO) to stay updated on the latest developments on the Ebola virus and other infectious diseases.


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

The virus has claimed 2,097, as at Sept. 5, in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone according to latest figures from the World Health Organization.

The Muslim-dominated Republic of Guinea remains the worst affected by the disease that was discovered in 1976 after an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The contagious disease, which has no known cure, has initial symptoms that include headaches, muscle pain, conjunctivitis and weakness, before moving into more severe phases of causing vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding.

The fatality rate of the current outbreak is around 60% although Ebola can kill up to 90% of those who catch it.


Nigeria, which has reported 23 confirmed cases, with eight 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.

Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.




Fatima Achouri

Sociologue spécialiste de l’islam contemporain.

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