Published on : Thursday, February 27, 2020
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia suspended the entry of foreigners from countries where the coronavirus has spread for the Umrah pilgrimage and tourism, as more and more new cases of coronavirus outside China intensified fears of a pandemic.
The kingdom, which organizes the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, greets millions of Muslim visitors all through the year with highest numbers during the haj pilgrimage. Last October, it introduced a new tourism visa for 49 countries.
The ministry of foreign affairs in a recent statement has explained that the postponement were for temporary basis but provided no timeframe for their expiry. It wasn’t quite clear if the haj pilgrimage, which will start in late July, would be affected or not.
Also, entry is suspended for visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
Till now, Saudi Arabia doesn’t have any cases of the coronavirus however, the deadly virus has been spreading in some neighboring countries.
The ministry did not state people from which countries would get affected but said the health authorities of the kingdom would decide where the outbreak constituted a danger.
This week, all the top tourism officials of Saudi Arabia said that 400,000 tourist visas had been issued since their launch in October and the country is all set to attract 100 million annual visits in 2030.
The new coronavirus cases inside China – the source of the outbreak – was for the first time surpassed by new cases somewhere else on Wednesday, with countries like Italy and Iran emerging as the central points of the rapidly spreading illness.
Hundreds of new cases have been reported in Asia. Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first country with an infection case and the new disease – COVID-19 – was also detected for the first time in Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria.