Saudi Arabia suspends Hajj visas for DR Congo over Ebola

Henrietta Brewer
July 28, 2019

Saudi Arabia has suspended issuing visas to pilgrims from the Democratic Republic of the Congo over fears that Ebola could spread during next month's Hajj pilgrimage there.

That means pilgrims from the central African country can not undertake the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, DR Congo's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

A letter from the Saudi foreign ministry to DR Congo's embassy in Riyadh - seen by AP news agency - said the kingdom had taken the decision to protect pilgrims and others from the virus.

The suspension came after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the Ebola outbreak in Congo's eastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces a public health emergency of worldwide concern. It is the second-worst outbreak of its kind on record.

The AU had previously convened a continental fundraising forum back in 2014 for a similar cause when the Ebola virus disease outbreak battered West African countries.

Last week, members of the emergency Committee declared an epidemic in DR Congo "emergency environment, public health, global importance".

Serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected.

The West African Ebola epidemic, which is regarded as the largest in history, started with cases of Ebola virus in the forested rural region of southeastern Guinea, as reported by the World Health Organization in March 2014.

Almost 1,670 have died in the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, where multiple armed groups and lack of local trust have hampered efforts to get the outbreak under control.

Other reports by iNewsToday