Riyadh, April 2: Visas for Muslim pilgrims from Guinea and Liberia in West Africa have been suspended by Saudi Arabia as a “precautionary measure” due to the ebola virus outbreak in the region.
The West African nations have been battling a deadly ebola viral epidemic for the last one month that has claimed 80 lives out of the 122 recorded cases in Guinea. Four Liberian nationals have also died due to the disease.
Saudi Arabia’s health ministry confirmed that Liberia and Guinea have been affected with this deadly virus.
“Authorities have, therefore been advised not to issue Haj, a major Muslim pilgrimage or Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca, visas to pilgrims from these two countries,” Arab News quoted an official as saying Wednesday.
According to the official, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not issued any travel advisory against these two countries.
“The ministry of health issues quarantine requirements to Saudi missions abroad through the Saudi foreign ministry,” he said.
Ebola is a fatal disease that kills up to 90 percent of its victims.
Its initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat.
Outbreaks of ebola occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rain forests, according to the WHO.
It is feared that the current outbreak has spread to nearby Sierra Leone, where one fatality has been reported so far.
The disease is transmitted between humans through contact with organs, blood, secretions or other bodily fluids.