Nigeria set to send pilgrims to hajj despite spread of Ebola virus

Nigeria confirmed the death of a female nurse due to Ebola, bringing the number of Nigerian deaths due to Ebola to four.

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The Nigerian government announced that it would be sending its quota of pilgrims for hajj, as there has been no announcement to the contrary.

It said that it had not received any notification or statement from Saudi Arabia forbidding the issuance of visas to its citizens interested in performing hajj and Umrah till this moment.

It said that all procedures are going on smoothly, till this moment, to facilitate the travel of its citizens to perform hajj without any change in our schedule.

The Nigerian daily “Vanguard” quoted the National hajj Committee (NAHCON) as saying that preparations are going on for the hajj season this year.

It expressed its interest for confirmation and receiving an official notification from the Kingdom indicating the situation of Nigerian pilgrims this year.

Nigeria confirmed the death of a female nurse due to Ebola, bringing the number of Nigerian deaths due to Ebola to four. The first victim was registered on July 24, 2014.

While preparations for hajj were on, Nigeria on Saturday withdrew from the Youth Olympics in the Chinese city of Nanjing. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach confirmed the decision.

The IOC had said athletes from Ebola-hit countries would be barred from competing in pool events and combat sports.

Four African nations — Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and now Nigeria — battle the worst outbreak of the Ebola virus in decades.

The World Health Organization said the death toll from the worst epidemic of the disease in four decades has climbed to 1,145 in the afflicted countries.

Earlier, representatives of Gulf countries had met to discuss precautions against the Ebola epidemic ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage in early October.

In April, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on visas for Muslims from the three West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone wishing to perform hajj later this year.

And the decision to suspend 7,200 hajj visas for pilgrims from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia because of the Ebola virus was accepted “with grace” by the three African nations.

Meanwhile, Jeddah Health Affairs has reinforced its precautionary measures against Ebola at air, sea and land inlets.

An official spokesman of the department said pilgrims coming from countries neighboring the three West African states will be closely watched to prevent any probable spread of the virus.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Saturday, Aug.16, 2014.

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