The National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) on Thursday said intending 2014 pilgrims discovered to have contacted Ebola virus would not be allowed to perform this year’s pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Dr Ibrahim Kana, NAHCON board member representing Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), disclosed this at a Workshop organised by NAHCON and Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja.
Kana said such a step was necessary to curtail the spread of the virus amongst pilgrims.
“Over 60,000 Nigerians are expected to participate in the 2014 hajj and it is important to sensitise them on the steps to take to avoid contact with the disease.”
“If a pilgrim is discovered to have the disease before departure, such a person will not be allowed to go and if he is discovered in Saudi Arabia, he would not be allowed to return with other pilgrims.”
“These are efforts to curtail uncontrolled spread of the disease,” he said. Also speaking at the occasion, Prof. Abdulsalam Nasidi, Director, Centre for Disease Control, said Ebola had become so fearful because of its fast fatal nature.
Nasidi said the case of Ebola in Nigeria was still limited because the cases discovered were traceable to Mr Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian diplomat who brought the disease to Nigeria.
He also said that it was important to sensitise Muslims who performed the pilgrimage because the disease could spread fast within a large crowd if not checked.
“The outbreak of this disease poses a serious challenge to the world and there is the need for increased sensitization amongst vulnerable groups.”
“As at now, the experience in Nigeria can still be described as limited because all the cases discovered are directly traceable to the index case; Mr Patrick Sawyer, who brought the infection from Liberia.”
“Nigerians need to improve on personal hygiene and to be conscious of relating with severely sick people,” he said.
He said the government had been effective in preventing the spread of the disease and advised Nigerians to obey tips given to them by health officials on prevention of the disease.