RIYADH, Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended entry into the country for Non-Saudis seeking to perform Umrah due to fears over the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, local media reported Thursday.
Citing the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry, the Arab News website reported that the suspension also applies to those seeking to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Umrah, or the lesser pilgrimage, can be performed at any time during the year.
The novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has sounded global alarms, with China, the epicenter of an outbreak, reporting over 2,700 deaths and health experts grappling to find a cure.
Outside mainland China, the virus has spread to more than 30 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Singapore, France, Russia, Spain and India.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international health emergency.
Precautionary measures to prevent CoronaVirus from reaching the Kingdom
- Entry into the kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and/or visiting the prophet’s masjid in Holy Madinah is temporarily suspended.
- Entry to the kingdom with a tourist visa from countries with confirmed Coronavirus outbreaks is temporarily suspended.
- The use of national id cards instead of passports for travel to and from the kingdom is suspended.
Exceptions will be allowed for
- Saudi nationals who left Saudi Arabia by using their national cards.
- Citizens for Gulf Cooperation Council countries wishing to return from Saudi Arabia after entering with their national identity cards.
Saudi Arabia announces extraordinary measures to protect Mecca and Medina from coronavirus
- Mount Safa and Mount Marwa inside the Great Mosque in Mecca will also be closed until a ban on Umrah pilgrimages is lifted. Zamzam water dispensaries within both mosques will also be closed off.
- The measures come after local authorities closed off the interior of the Great Mosque in Mecca until Friday morning prayers to allow cleaning teams to disinfect the tawaf area near the Kaaba, a black boxed structure in the mosque complex
- Suspending entry for Umrah
- Suspending entry for tourism visa holders
- No travel with national ID cards
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Sudais, Imam & Khateeb of Masjid Al Haram delivered a speech on the Corona virus situation after the Isha prayer on 13 Rajab (8th March 2020).
In his speech, he mentioned: You know what diseases like the coronovirus have befallen the world, and there is no doubt that this is all from Allah. The affliction and test is so that the servants return to him.
He also mentioned “The Kingdom’s government, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and his Crown Prince, is to take precautions and precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Coronovirus,” commenting. The government are taking the necessary measures that are required so do not panic and don’t be driven by the rumours, allegations, lies and exaggeration“
He also stressed on the importance of taking the necessary precautions in accordance with the principles.
He concluded his speech by saying, “By the will of Allah, things will return as they were within days, and we must abide by the instructions of the the relevant authorities” and Allah knows the best.