News / Africa

Nigerians Hope to Complete Hajj Amid Ebola Outbreak

A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer on a passenger at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.
A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer on a passenger at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 6, 2014.
Heather Murdock

Nigeria confirmed two more Ebola cases Friday and said six other new patients are showing symptoms.  Despite the outbreak, Nigerian officials are calling on Saudi Arabia to keep its borders open to Nigerian Muslims for this year's pilgrimage to Mecca, after the Kingdom suspended thousands of visas in other countries in West Africa.
 
As Saudi authorities prepare for this year's Hajj in October, they have suspended visas for thousands of Muslims in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia due to the Ebola outbreak.
 
Over 900 dead

 

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The outbreak began in February and has killed more than 900 people in the three West African countries.   Nigeria's first Ebola death was on July 25.  A second - a nurse that treated an infected Liberian-American visitor - died on Tuesday.
 
Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu says the government is taking extraordinary measures to stave off the spread.  And so he is calling on Saudi officials to allow Nigerians, about half of whom are Muslims, to perform the holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
 
"I've reviewed the situation and I feel if we screen everybody that is inbound and we can work with the authorities of Saudi Arabia, who I expect to also do their own screening at the point of entry," said Chukwu.

But he did call on authorities to have medical experts monitoring all large-scale religious events in countries with Ebola.   The virus spreads through bodily fluids, and while most casual contact can not make a person sick, crowded venues could increase the risk.
 
No ban

Saleh Okenwe, with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, says he expects to fly tens of thousands of Nigerians to Mecca as planned.
 
"Just a few days ago we received a password for processing the Hajj visas from the Saudi authorities," said Okenwe. "So there is no cares of banning Nigerians from participating in Hajj because of Ebola."
 
Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, the secretary general of Jama'atu Nasril Islam, a prominent Islamic organization in Nigeria, says as a religious leader, he is far more concerned about the health crisis than the Hajj.
 
"We hope God will help us stop it there so it didn't really move.  But really, we have to be really very careful," said Aliyu. "We hope before the operation, things would normalize and we'd go on."
 
Aliyu says the government appears to be working fast and he has hopes the Ebola will spread no further in Nigeria, or out of Nigeria.


Unprecedented

This is the first time Ebola has affected West Africa since the disease was identified in 1976.  International medical experts are calling this outbreak unprecedented. The World Health Organization has declared it an international health emergency.  
 
The disease spread to Nigeria in July, when Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American financial consultant, flew from Liberia to Nigeria and died of Ebola in Lagos.  It was the first time the virus has been known to cross an international border by air.  Since then, the other Ebola patients in Nigeria have all been people who came into direct contact with Sawyer.
 
On Wednesday, a man in Saudi Arabia died after traveling to Sierra Leone on a business trip, raising fears that Ebola may have traveled by plane again, and this time to another continent.

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from KADUNA.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: RS from: Kano
August 08, 2014 4:31 PM
How do they know what the Saudi government will do? The statements of the leaders in Nigeria seem to be in denial that this will most likely cause a ban this year.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs