Published on : Friday, February 28, 2020
The novel coronavirus has gone global reaching most of the Asian nations and European countries. This outbreak in China becomes a worldwide epidemic. Since it was first identified in mid-December (Wuhan Province), the virus has killed more than 2,800 worldwide.
The vast majority of those deaths have occurred in Hubei, the province at the center of the initial outbreak, new clusters are fast expanding outside of China, in countries as diverse as Iran, Italy and South Korea.
In the past week alone, there are 20 other countries confirmed their first cases of the coronavirus, mostly in European and the Middle East countries. Italy has put many northern cities and towns of the country on lockdown, prohibiting people from entering or exiting impacted regions, temporarily calling off all public events and closing museums and other attractions to the public. The measures efficiently put an estimated 100,000 people under quarantine. Most of the major events and public gatherings are cancelled.
Saudi Arabia also suspended all foreigners’ entry for the Umrah pilgrimage and tourism from other countries where the new coronavirus has spread, as a growing number of cases outside China deepened fears of a pandemic.
The Saudi Arabian 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 Haj pilgrimage. 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 haj pilgrimage, which is scheduled to begin in late July, would be impacted. The entry is also suspended for visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. But Saudi Arabia itself has had no cases of the coronavirus but it has been spreading in some neighbouring countries.
On Wednesday, for the first time, there were more cases reported outside China that inside, according to data from the World Health Organisation. Globally, more than 3,200 cases have now been confirmed outside of China, bringing the total number to more than 82,000.
This rise in public fear has seen shops in Italy and other hard-hit regions sell out of medical supplies like face masks — an echo of the same panic buying that had gripped Asia just earlier this month. On Wednesday, the World Tourism Organisation or UNWTO and the World Health Organisation of WHO released a joint statement in the light of the present outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 Coronavirus.
As the disease continues to develop in various corners of the world, UNWTO and WHO pledges to work together for providing guidance to the travel and tourism sectors’ response to the COVID-19 virus.
UNWTO and WHO have joined hands to work closely with the affected countries and communities. Necessary support would be provided to places having current health emergency with the aim of establishing a better and more resilient future. The joint statement highlighted that international cooperation is essential and both the organizations are committed to providing help to the travel and tourism sector.