Saudi authorities are threatening to bar Nigerians from attending this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca over fears they could spread Lassa fever, Nigeria’s National Hajj Commission has said.
Since the start of the year the disease has killed at least 90 people in Nigeria and more than 1,000 cases have been reported across the country.
Symptoms of Lassa fever can include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, abdominal pains, sore throat and facial swelling.
The virus is passed to people who eat infected rats, or if food is contaminated by rat droppings or urine. It can also be transmitted through contact with body fluids of an infected person.
A spokesman for Nigeria’s Hajj commission, Mousa Ubandawaki, says they are responding to the threat by holding “an expanded meeting” on Wednesday with “all officials from the 36 states, the commission and officials of the federal government to discuss the matter”.
The Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia will take place in August this year.