Saudi Arabia’s ministry of foreign affairs on Thursday (Feb 27) issued a statement saying it has temporarily suspended entry into the Kingdom for the purpose of umrah or visiting the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah.
The ministry has also temporarily suspended tourist visas from countries with confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks. The statement did not name which countries, saying this is “according to the criteria determined by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom”.
The ministry said it is taking “proactive preventive measures to prevent the arrival of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Kingdom and its spread”.
The foreign ministry has also called for Saudi citizens not to travel to countries where the COVID-19 is spreading.
#Statement | Proactive Preventive Measures to Prevent the Arrival of the New Coronavirus (#COVID19) to the Kingdom pic.twitter.com/fuBAWq19Du
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) February 26, 2020
The Saudi decision comes as four new countries reported cases of COVID-19: Algeria, Austria, Croatia, and Switzerland, according to the WHO.
As of Feb 26, there are no confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia but the number is increasing in neighbouring countries, including 95 in Iran, 26 in Bahrain, 13 in UAE, 12 in Kuwait, 5 in Iraq, 4 in Oman, and 1 each in Afghanistan, Egypt, and Lebanon, according to WHO data.
7,457,663 pilgrims performed the umrah during the 1440 Islamic year, equivalent to Sep 11, 2018 to Aug 2, 2019, according to data from the Saudi hajj ministry.
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