No fewer than ten Nigerians in Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic hajj rites have been confirmed dead, the Coordinator of the National Hajj Commission in Mecca, Aliyu Tanko, said on Monday.
Mr. Tanko said at least 50,000 Nigerian pilgrims have so far arrived Mecca with virtually all of them having performed the Umrah rites.
In a telephone chat in Mecca on Monday, Mr. Tanko said that the commission’s three clinics in Mecca and those set up by the various state pilgrims boards provide effective medical services to Nigerian pilgrims in Mecca.
He urged pilgrims to always seek medical advice before embarking on pilgrimage and warned them against exposing themselves to the harsh weather in the Holy Land.
In the same vein, two lounges were provided at Jeddah airport to check African pilgrims for Ebola, with King Abdulaziz International Airport, KAIA having the two lounges to receive pilgrims coming from Nigeria and some other African countries as a preventive measure against the Ebola virus.
“So far 118,000 pilgrims have arrived by air from Nigeria. There was not a single suspected case of the deadly virus among anyone of them,” said Abdul Ghani Al-Malki, the supervisor of Hajj affairs at the terminal.
He said that aircrafts coming from Nigeria are thoroughly checked to prevent the deadly virus.
According to him, an integrated plan was implemented at the airport to prevent the spread of Ebola. ‘‘Emergency doctors and consultants in infectious diseases are participating in the execution of the plan in addition to qualified teams who are capable of checking the virus,’’ Mr. Al-Malki said.
He said pilgrims arriving from all parts of the world are being checked against contagious diseases. “We are particularly checking pilgrims coming from countries with reported cases of Ebola including Nigeria, Kenya and Congo,” he said.
The Saudi Kingdom has prevented entry of pilgrims from the Ebola-infected countries in West Africa namely Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
It was gathered that special forms were distributed among all airline companies containing questions for the pilgrims to answer.
“The pilgrims are asked about their whereabouts for the last 21 days which is the incubation period of the virus,” Abdur Razaq Halliru Gozaki, a Nigerian Port Health official now performing pilgrimage said.