Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah pilgrimage amid coronavirus fears

Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah pilgrimage amid coronavirus fears

Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah pilgrimage amid coronavirus fears

Kingdom, which has no cases so far, also supends tourism from countries where the virus has spread

MEE and agencies
Thu, 02/27/2020 – 07:50

Saudi Arabia, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year (Wikipedia)

Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended foreigners’ entry for the Umrah pilgrimage, and tourism from countries where the new coronavirus has spread, as a growing number of cases outside China deepened fears of a pandemic.

The kingdom, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year with a peak for the hajj pilgrimage. 

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It introduced a new tourism visa last October for 49 countries.

The ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that the suspensions were temporary but provided no timeframe for their expiry. 

It was unclear if the hajj pilgrimage, which is scheduled to begin in late July, would be impacted.

Entry is also suspended for visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

Saudi Arabia has had no cases of the coronavirus but it has been spreading in some neighbouring countries.

The ministry did not specify people from which countries would be impacted but said the kingdom’s health authorities would determine where the outbreak constituted a danger.

‘Very low’ risk

Saudi Arabia’s top tourism official said this week 400,000 tourist visas had been issued since their launch in October and the country aims to attract 100 million annual visits in 2030.

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The number of new coronavirus infections inside China – the source of the outbreak – was for the first time overtaken by new cases elsewhere on Wednesday, with Italy and Iran emerging as epicenters of the rapidly spreading illness.

Asia reported hundreds of new cases, Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first infection and the new disease – COVID-19 – was also detected for the first time in Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania, Georgia and Algeria.

US health authorities, managing 59 cases – mostly Americans repatriated from a cruise ship in Japan – have said a global pandemic is likely. 

In a television address, US President Donald Trump told Americans on Wednesday that the risk remained “very low”, and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US response.

Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah pilgrimage amid coronavirus fears

Kingdom, which has no cases so far, also supends tourism from countries where the virus has spread

MEE and agencies
Thu, 02/27/2020 – 07:50

Saudi Arabia, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year (Wikipedia)

Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended foreigners’ entry for the Umrah pilgrimage, and tourism from countries where the new coronavirus has spread, as a growing number of cases outside China deepened fears of a pandemic.

The kingdom, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year with a peak for the hajj pilgrimage. 

Have US sanctions impacted Iran’s ability to combat the coronavirus?

Read More »

It introduced a new tourism visa last October for 49 countries.

The ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that the suspensions were temporary but provided no timeframe for their expiry. 

It was unclear if the hajj pilgrimage, which is scheduled to begin in late July, would be impacted.

Entry is also suspended for visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

Saudi Arabia has had no cases of the coronavirus but it has been spreading in some neighbouring countries.

The ministry did not specify people from which countries would be impacted but said the kingdom’s health authorities would determine where the outbreak constituted a danger.

‘Very low’ risk

Saudi Arabia’s top tourism official said this week 400,000 tourist visas had been issued since their launch in October and the country aims to attract 100 million annual visits in 2030.

Coronavirus in the Middle East: A country by country guide

Read More »

The number of new coronavirus infections inside China – the source of the outbreak – was for the first time overtaken by new cases elsewhere on Wednesday, with Italy and Iran emerging as epicenters of the rapidly spreading illness.

Asia reported hundreds of new cases, Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first infection and the new disease – COVID-19 – was also detected for the first time in Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania, Georgia and Algeria.

US health authorities, managing 59 cases – mostly Americans repatriated from a cruise ship in Japan – have said a global pandemic is likely. 

In a television address, US President Donald Trump told Americans on Wednesday that the risk remained “very low”, and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US response.


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MEE and agencies