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CurrentMiddle East

Saudi Arabia bars entry for Umrah pilgrimage due to coronavirus fears

10
CurrentMiddle East

Saudi Arabia bars entry for Umrah pilgrimage due to coronavirus fears

While there have been no reported cased detected in Saudi Arabia so far, there have been increases in cases in the Middle East region, which has no doubt prompted the suspension.

10

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While there have been no reported cased detected in Saudi Arabia so far, there have been increases in cases in the Middle East region, which has no doubt prompted the suspension.

Saudi Arabia has suspended entry into the country for foreigners seeking to perform the Umrah pilgrimage or to visit the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, citing fears of coronavirus spreading to the Kingdom. It has also barred tourists travelling from countries which it determines pose a coronavirus risk.

Nearly 7 million people visit the Kingdom each year for the Umrah pilgrimage.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the suspension is “based on the recommendations of the competent health authorities to apply the highest precautionary standards and take proactive preventive measures to prevent the emergence of the coronavirus in the Kingdom and its spread”.

The Ministry has confirmed that the suspensions are temporary but has not provided an end date to them. It is therefore unclear whether the suspension will affect the Hajj pilgrimage, which is due to commence in July.

There will also be a temporary suspension on Saudi nationals and citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations using their national identity card to travel to and from the Kingdom. There are exceptions to this for Saudis returning home, and citizens of GCC countries who are in Saudi Arabia and wish to return home, provided that they left or entered the country using a national identity card.

While there have been no reported cased detected in Saudi Arabia so far, there have been increases in cases in the Middle East region, which has no doubt prompted the suspension. Iran’s death toll recently reached 19, which is the highest death toll outside China, where the virus originated. Furthermore, it was earlier revealed that seven Saudis are among the latest coronavirus cases in Bahrain and Kuwait.

The announcement comes amid a surge in confirmed cases across the world. Italy now has 400 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a 25% increase in one day. Globally, more than 80,000 people across 40 countries have been affected. Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, has killed more than 2,700 people so far.

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