Saudi Arabia suspends entry to the Umrah pilgrimage due to fears of coronavirus

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Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned umrah pilgrims to ensure public security by preventing the spread of the corona virus.

Most foreign pilgrims often visit the Prophet’s mosque in Medina before or after performing their religious duties in Mecca. This was also stopped.

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This is one of several precautionary measures announced early Thursday as the Kingdom’s health authorities closely monitor the spread of the virus. Tourist visa holders from countries where there is a particularly high risk of spreading the virus will also be refused entry.

In addition, Saudi nationals and citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council states cannot initially use a national identity card to travel to and from the Kingdom. Exceptions to this are granted to Saudis returning home and citizens of GCC countries who are in the Kingdom and would like to return to their home countries if they have left or entered the Kingdom with a national identity card.

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Health authorities at the entry points check which countries travelers have visited before arriving in Saudi Arabia and take all necessary precautions.

Saudi officials stressed that the restrictions are temporary and are being continuously reviewed by health authorities. They reaffirmed the support and implementation of the Kingdom’s international efforts to limit the spread of the virus, and the State Department asked citizens not to travel to the countries most affected by the corona virus.

Almost 7 million Umrah pilgrims visit the kingdom each year, most of whom arrive at airports in Jeddah and Madinah.

Previously, seven Saudis were found to be among the most recent coronavirus cases in Bahrain and Kuwait. The Bahraini Ministry of Health said Wednesday that six Saudi women had tested positive for the virus.

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The total number of confirmed cases in the country is 26. Studies at schools and universities have been suspended for two weeks to limit the spread of the virus.

Kuwait announced the first case of a Saudi citizen infected with the virus. The man who had come into the country from the Iranian city of Mashhad was quarantined for 14 days. So far, 26 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Kuwait.

The Saudi Ministry of Health has provided advice and guidelines to neighboring Arab countries to combat infectious diseases such as the corona virus and to deal with health emergencies.

Deputy Minister of Public Health, Dr. Hani bin Abdul Aziz Jokhdar ensured that the guidelines are taken on Saudi Arabia’s vast experience of protecting pilgrims’ health during the coming Hajj season.

He headed the Kingdom delegation at a meeting of the Executive Office of the Council of Arab Health Ministers on Wednesday at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

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