By Courtney Trenwith
GCC health boss says deadly virus not a threat to the Gulf but stringent measures in place
Gulf states have implemented stringent measures at airports in an attempt to prevent Ebola virus patients entering the region, the director-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s executive health office, Tawfiq Ahmad Khoja, has reportedly said.
Professor Khoja said Gulf authorities were coordinating with the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has warned the fatal virus could spread further than West Africa because the response had been “woefully inadequate”.
Thousands of West Africans work in the Gulf.
More than 700 people have died from Ebola in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in recent weeks, making it the most deadly outbreak since the disease was identified 40 years ago.
Screening has been particularly beefed up in Saudi Arabia, where millions of Muslims are travelling to perform Umrah and Haj.
However, Professor Khoja said Gulf residents did not need to be concerned about Ebola spreading to the region.
“The disease does not constitute any fears to Gulf countries, particularly the kingdom, which has taken precautionary measures for Umrah and Haj seasons,” he was quoted as saying by Saudi Gazette.
“The symptoms and the incubation period are fast; therefore, it is highly unlikely that Ebola cases might reach the kingdom.”
WHO has warned the virus is spiralling out of control, with cases increasing faster than preventative measures, meaning it could spread to even more countries.
WHO chief Margaret Chan has told the leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia that the response to the epidemic had been “woefully inadequate”.
The UK’s top public health doctor Professor John Ashton on Sunday blamed the "moral bankruptcy" of the pharmaceutical industry for a failure to find a vaccine, because it only affected Africans.
Dubai-based Emirates on Saturday became the first major international airline to suspended flights to Guinea due to the Ebola outbreak.