No Saudi visas for Congo pilgrims amid Ebola fears
World Health Organisation has said Ebola outbreak is 'public health emergency of international concern'
Pilgrims from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will not be issued visas by Saudi Arabia amid fears Ebola could spread during next month’s Hajj pilgrimage, sister title Arabian Business reported.
A statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “The granting of arrivals visas for people entering from DRC has been stopped, to conserve the well-being of pilgrims.”
The suspension comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak in Congo’s eastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces a public health emergency of international concern.
However, despite this, WHO has said no countries should place restrictions on travel or trade because of Ebola and it has called on governments not to ‘panic’ in response to the decision by Riyadh.
According to a report by Reuters, around three percent of Congo’s population is Muslim, while people from sub-Saharan Africa make up about 10% of the more than two million annual pilgrims to the holy city of Mecca.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia cancelled more than 7,000 visas for pilgrims from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia during the last Ebola outbreak, which claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people.
The epidemic has killed over 1,700 people since it emerged last October, according to the health ministry in Congo.