Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned travelers from coming to the kingdom for either Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, or to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina, as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry made this known in a statement on Thursday.
“Suspending entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque temporarily,” the ministry said.
Riyadh also banned travelers with tourist visas issued by countries “in which the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a danger, according to the criteria determined by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom,” the ministry added.
The Umrah, or “minor pilgrimage,” can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj, which is the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar. Every Muslim should make a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Mecca at least once during their lifetime.
As of Thursday, over 82,000 people worldwide have contracted COVID-19, of whom 2,800 have died and more than 32,000 have recovered.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim