Riyadh: Saudi Arabia's health ministry announced Tuesday it is testing blood samples of a man who is suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus after a recent trip to Sierra Leone.
The 40-year-old Saudi man showed symptoms of viral haemorrhagic fever Monday night at a hospital in Jeddah. He is in critical condition and has been moved to a care centre with advanced isolation and infection-control capabilities, Xinhua reported citing the ministry.
Preliminary tests in a local laboratory showed negative for dengue virus and additional tests are under way to determine the source of infection, the ministry explained, adding that it would also submit samples for Ebola virus testing to an international reference laboratory at the recommendation of the World Health Organisation.
Some viral hemorrhagic fevers are found in Saudi Arabia but no confirmed case of Ebola virus has been detected in the Gulf nation, the ministry clarified.
Saudi Arabia announced in April that it was not issuing visas for the 2014 Haj and Umrah to pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea due to the outbreak of Ebola in these countries. Medical workers are monitoring travellers at airports and seaports across the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has suffered from rampant spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, and a total of 721 cases were registered since 2012, with 298 people dying of the disease.
Infection by the virus reduced drastically because of nationwide efforts as no new cases were registered for almost a month.
The Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe illness with a mortality rate of up to 90 percent.