World Bulletin / News Desk
Saudi Arabia's Labor Ministry on Monday decided to stop granting visas to workers seeking to enter the country from West African states Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – all of which have been hard hit by the deadly Ebola virus.
The ministry said it had taken the step based on recommendations by the ministries of health and foreign affairs in hopes of preventing the virus from entering Saudi Arabia via incoming workers from affected countries.
Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mufraj bin Saad al-Haqbani said the decision was temporary, stressing that it came in line with an earlier government decision to stop granting entry visas to Muslim pilgrims from the three West African states.
Saudi Arabia has a total labor force of some 10.7 million, including 6 million foreign workers, according to the Saudi Central Department of Statistics and Information.
Al-Haqbani said that the move would not affect Saudi Arabia's labor market, noting that workers from the three states in question were relatively small in number compared with those from other countries.
As of mid-2014, he said, there were only 527 workers from the three states – including 152 domestic workers – working in the oil-rich kingdom.
In recent months, Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has claimed 1,552 lives in West Africa, mostly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
The tropical fever, which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, can be transmitted to humans from wild animals.
It also reportedly spreads through contact with the body fluids of infected persons or of those who have died of the disease.Last Mod: 02 Eylül 2014, 10:20