Saudi Arabia suspends visas to DR. Congo over Ebola outbreak

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Saudi Arabia has suspended the issuance of visas to people from the Democratic Republic of Congo in response to an Ebola outbreak there.

The move means Congolese Muslims will not be able to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca next month.

A letter from the Saudi foreign ministry to DR Congo’s embassy in Riyadh – seen by AP news agency – said the kingdom had taken the decision to protect pilgrims and others from the virus.

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Millions of Muslims from all over the world make the trip to Mecca each year to observe the Hajj pilgrimage, a religious requirement for Islam believers.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform it once in their lifetime.

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Saudi Arabia’s move to suspend the issuance of visas to Congolese citizens comes following an announcement by the World Health Organization declaring the Ebola outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

WHO made the declaration on 17 July but urged countries not to restrict trade or travel.

The DR Congo’s Ebola outbreak is the tenth and was declared in August 2018. It is considered the largest ever outbreak, with cases surpassing 2,500. It is also the second-biggest Ebola epidemic ever recorded, behind the West Africa outbreak of 2014-2016.

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According to MSF, reported cases since early June average between 75 and 100 each week.

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