Tuesday, 6 January 2015

News: Visa ban for Ebola-hit states remains in force

An official at the Ministry of Health has said that the ban on granting Umrah visas to visitors coming from countries hit with the Ebola virus is still in place at the beginning of this Umrah season.
He said that the ban comes from various bodies which advise competent agencies not to grant visa if it is found that the country in question is still infected with the virus.
The official confirmed that no Ebloa case has yet been recorded in the Kingdom since the beginning of the season.
He added that authorities here in the Kingdom will apply strict procedures against some African countries and will deal with them according to the specified mechanisms.
He noted that a secure path was established which does not pass through security checkpoints at airports or land crossings.
A health questionnaire has also been distributed so that doctors can identify suspected cases of Ebola. If someone is suspected of being infected with the virus, the person is immediately moved to King Fahd Hospital by a specialized ambulance capable of dealing with such situations.
Saad Al-Qurashi, former chairman of the Haj and Umrah committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressed the fact that the beginning of this Umrah season bodes well so far as no epidemic has been recorded and all Umrah pilgrims are expected to enjoy stable and good health conditions in the Kingdom.
"Epidemics around the world did not affect the volume of Umrah pilgrims. We are very keen on the security and safety of worshipers until they return sound and safe back to their countries of origin," said Al-Qurashi.
Saudi Arabia has taken a number of preventive measures at airports to prevent the Ebola virus from entering the country, or spreading during the seasons of Umrah and Haj. Such measures include a ban on the granting of visas for pilgrims from Ebola-infected countries, a major step in itself as the virus does not spread through thin air, but through body fluids such as blood and other secretions.
Preventing visitors of infected countries from entering the Kingdom prevents the spread of the virus in the country by 99 percent. The ban is not against certain nationalities, but against people arriving from the infected countries, or who have stayed there for more than 21 days, the longest incubation period of the virus.
The other measures taken at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and the Madinah airport involve monitoring the general health conditions of passengers entering the country. Any suspicious case will be monitored and isolated until authorities are assured the person is free of any contagious illness.

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