With hundreds of thousands of pilgrims streaming into Saudi Arabia from the Muslim world for the annual Haj in Mecca, the authorities are banning travelers from countries hard-hit by the Ebola virus.
Hospitals are preparing themselves, especially for an outbreak of the killer disease, but in an attempt to reduce risk pilgrims from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be turned away.
“Mainly we are concerned about Ebola because it’s a very infectious disease, so we created a different pathway for patients and set up a completely isolated room for that situation.There are no reported cases, either Corona or Ebola, in this hospital, in our emergency department, so far. May we ask Allah to prevent that from happening,” said the Head of Accident and Emergency at Al-Noor hospital Dr. Hassan Bokhari.
The Haj poses an annual logistics challenge for the Saudis, guardians of Islam’s holiest site, which should be open to all. But the health risks posed by such a crush of people in ordinary times are huge, and with Ebola on the loose, this is no ordinary time.