Published on : Saturday, March 7, 2020
Saudi Arabia has suspended tourist visas for Vietnamese, as well as nationals from 21 other countries and territories, in efforts to elude the spreading Covid-19 epidemic. The visitors from 22 coronavirus-hit areas including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam can no longer enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa, effective February 27, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.
Others on the list are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Macao, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
The suspensions are temporary and no timeframe was provided for their expiry. Vietnam reported its 17th Covid-19 infection on Friday after going 22 days with no new infection. Previously, all the 16 patients had recovered and been discharged from hospitals.
Saudi Arabia is one of the rare areas not yet affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic that hit 90 countries and territories around the world, with China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan the hotspots.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year with a peak during the hajj pilgrimage. It was unclear if the hajj, scheduled to begin in late July, would be impacted, with the timeline for suspension unknown.
Saudi Arabia’s top tourism official said as of this week 400,000 tourist visas had been issued since their launch last October and the country aims to attract 100 million annual visits in 2030. Vietnam declared the Covid-19 outbreak an epidemic on February 1.
The Covid-19 outbreak broke out in China’s Wuhan City, Hubei Province late December last year. By Saturday morning, the disease had infected 102,000 people in 97 countries and territories and killed 3,500, mostly Chinese citizens.