No Ebola threat to Haj: Entry points are on full alert

An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant inside a government building in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, on Aug. 1, 2014. Because of the Ebola threat, Saudi Arabia has suspended the issuance of Umrah and Haj visas to pilgrims from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to prevent the spread of the disease.

An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant inside a government building in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, on Aug. 1, 2014. Because of the Ebola threat, Saudi Arabia has suspended the issuance of Umrah and Haj visas to pilgrims from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to prevent the spread of the disease.

Pilgrims from Ebola-endemic countries will be identified at disembarkation points in the Kingdom, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Health.

“Although Umrah and Haj visas are not issued to pilgrims from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea due to the prevalence of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever in these countries, pilgrims from other countries will still be checked upon entry into the Kingdom,” he said.

“The ministry has fielded special teams at air, land and sea entry points to identify pilgrims who are suffering from the disease,” Sami Badawood, Jeddah Health Affairs director, told Arab News on Monday.

“Infected pilgrims will immediately be quarantined and treated,” he said. “Authorities have been advised not to issue Haj or Umrah visas to these three countries,” he said, while the US-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention has urged all US residents to avoid non-essential travel to endemic African countries in the wake of the virus.

Badawood said that his ministry has been carefully following online instructions issued by the WHO on the issue. The ministry also sporadically issues quarantine requirements to Saudi missions abroad.

An Ebola outbreak has been ongoing in Sierra Leone since May 2014 and has also affected Liberia and Guinea.

More than 825 people have died to date, making this the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.
At least three Americans have been infected, two of whom are health care workers at an Ebola clinic.

Instances of civil unrest and violence against aid workers have been reported in West Africa as a result of the outbreak.

Ebola is a severe and often fatal disease that affects and kills up to 90 percent of humans infected with the virus.

The Ebola virus is passed to humans through close contact with animals, such as fruit bats, monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, carrying the virus.

Infected patients are highly contagious and pass the virus on to others who come in close contact with them either by exposure to objects that have been contaminated with infected blood or bodily fluids or through direct contact with the infected person’s blood or bodily fluids.

The incubation period for Ebola viral hemorrhagic fever is typically one week, during which time, the infected person will suffer from an array of symptoms such as fever, chills, back pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. As the virus progresses, those infected will experience a rash over their entire body, swelling of the eyes and genital area, bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes, ears, and rectum, followed by shock, coma and death in many cases.

 
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