Muslims from Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have been banned from making the pilgrimage to the by holy city of Mecca this year because of cholera and Ebola epidemics in the region by Suadi Arabia.
A Congolese religious leader Cheik Abdallah Mangala told the AFP on Thursday that he thought the Saudi government had made the decision to avoid any contamination from the Ebola and cholera viruses, which have taken a serious number of people on the region in recent months. Since mid-August, the DRC has been fighting with the outbreak of cholera, a contagious intestinal infection and of Ebola which is one of the world’s most virulent diseases.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 20 000 people in the DRC have been infected with cholera in 2012, with a mortality rate of2%. Leodegar Bazira, the WHO official in the DRC, said the organisation had recorded 74 Ebola cases since August. 36 of them were deadly, putting the mortality rate at 50%. But he added that the disease was now under control and confined to the northeastern town of Isiro. No restrictions have been imposed in any traveling in the country. In Uganda, the Ebola disease has killed 17 people since July, but officials announced earlier this month that the disease had been brought under control and urged all countries to lift travel restrictions on Uganda.
Up to date, there is neither treatment nor vaccine for Ebola, a rare hemorrhagic disease that kills between 25% and 90% of patients, depending on the strain of the virus. The disease is named after a small river in the DRC. Cholera, which is caused by eating of contaminated food or water, can hit speedily, causing intense diarrhea, vomiting and nausea leading to severe dehydration.
Pilgrims have already begun to arrive in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage, the world’s largest annual gathering, which peaks around 25 October this year with more than one million Muslims expected.