Article by
Dani Reiter
Updated
September 26th, 2019

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Discontinues Issuing Travel Visas for the DRC

Ebola treatments ZMapp, Regeneron and Remdesivir are approved for shipment to the DRC and Uganda

kingdom of saudi arabi mosque architecture

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has stopped issuing visas to people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) regarding the ongoing Ebola Zaire virus outbreak, reports the AP News.

A letter from the Saudi foreign ministry to the DRC's embassy in Riyadh, obtained by the Associated Press and dated July 24, 2019, says the ‘Kingdom made the decision to protect Hajj pilgrims and others.’

This new decision affects ‘anyone coming from the DRC, including non-citizens,’ says AP News. 

The Hajj is an annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca undertaken each year by 2-3 million people. This year's Hajj occurs from approximately August 9, 2019, to August 14, 2019. 

Previously, Saudi Arabia suspended visas during West Africa's Ebola outbreak during 2014 in which more than 11,000 people died. 

This announcement is in contrast to the World Health Organization recommendation on July 1, 2019, ‘against issuing travel restrictions related to this Ebola outbreak.’ 

Additionally, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Canada, and the UK Foreign Travel Advice have issued Travel Alerts, which strongly warn people to avoid visiting the DRC in 2019.

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Since the beginning of this Ebola epidemic in August 2018, a total of 2,522 EVD cases and 1,698 fatalities have been reported by the WHO.

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. People can get EVD through direct contact with an infected animal or a sick or dead person infected with Ebola virus, says the CDC.

As of July 26, 2019, there is no approved treatment for EVD.

But, there are several experimental treatments approved for shipment to the DRC and Uganda:

  • Mapp Biopharmaceutical’s ZMapp, which is composed of three “humanized” monoclonal antibodies manufactured in plants, specifically Nicotiana.
  • Gilead Sciences’s Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s Regeneron and Remdesivir.

The CDC is closely monitoring and, if necessary, verify travel and trade measures in relation to this Ebola ongoing event.