The acting health minister of Saudi Arabia announced Monday that this year’s hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, was Ebola-free. He said that the absence of Ebola and other infectious diseases should be attributed to the strong measures taken by the Saudi Government to protect the more than 2 million pilgrims from all over the world who made the hajj this year.
Concerns about the safety of the hajj in Saudi Arabia come after several doctors and health workers died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a deadly coronavirus, earlier this year.
This time however, Acting Health Minister Adel Faqih has reason to celebrate. He spoke to reporters about about his country’s successful protective measures, which included deploying thousands of health workers on the pilgrimage route and screening pilgrims upon their arrival in the country.
“I am pleased to announce that the hajj… was free of epidemic diseases. May God accept the pilgrimage of our guests and ensure that they enjoy good health and wellness,” the health minister said.
Saudi Arabia’s ban on issuing visas to people coming from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea will not be lifted. The ban affects an estimated 7,400 potential pilgrims, the Associated Press reports.
“That will continue until further notice until we are comfortable that it is not anymore an epidemic in these countries,” Faqih said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put the Ebola death toll for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia at 3431 as of Oct. 3, 2014.