Saudi Arabia “Suspends Entry” for Umrah over coronavirus fears

Saudi Arabia has suspended entry into the country for  individuals seeking to perform Umrah or visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday.

Riyadh issued the ban in an effort to halt the spread of the virus, suspending visits to the holy cities in response to Covid-19 concerns.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was taking precautions in line with World Health Organisation efforts to stop the surge of the novel coronavirus.

It also suspended entry to Saudi Arabia for travelers on tourist visas from the worst-hit countries, although it did list the countries in the report.

The Gulf state has imposed stricter controls on its borders as countries around the world react to climbing rates of infections, with entire cities in lockdown and travelers quarantined as the killer virus spreads.

These measures come at a time when has been a sharp increase in the number of cases reported in the Middle East, where most of the individuals infected had traveled from Iran which has a reported death toll standing at 19, the highest outside China.

This pushed several countries to suspend flights and most of its neighbors to close their borders. Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq, and the UAE have all reported coronavirus cases who had traveled to Iran recently.

More than 80,000 people have been infected by Covid-19 worldwide so far.

Pilgrims make ‘umrah’ Islamic pilgrimages to the holy sites throughout the year.