Saudi Arabia decided on Thursday to ban foreign pilgrims from entering the kingdom to visit Islam’s holiest sites over the new coronavirus, potentially disrupting the plans of millions of faithful ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and as the annual hajj pilgrimage looms.
The decision showed the growing worry across the Mideast about the virus as Iran confirmed that infected cases in the country spiked by over 100, to 254 now. A total of 26 people have died so far, it said. That pushes the region’s overall cases to above 350. Iran’s death toll is highest outside of China, where the outbreak began.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, in a statement, that it suspended the use of Saudi nationals and citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council countries to travel to and from the Kingdom, excluding the Saudis who are abroad if their exit from the Kingdom was with the national identity card, and citizens of GCC countries who are inside The Kingdom is currently, and they wish to return from it to their countries, in the event that their entry is with the national identity card, so that the concerned authorities in the outlets from the countries visited by the next person before his arrival to the Kingdom, and apply health precautions to deal with those coming from those countries.
The Kingdom also stressed that these measures are temporary, and are subject to continuous evaluation by the competent authorities, renewing its support for all international measures taken to limit the spread of the virus.
Moreover, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on citizens not to travel to countries experiencing the spread of the new Corona virus (19- COVID).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the competent health authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia closely follow the developments of the spread of the new Corona virus (19-COVID), confirming their keenness to implement the approved international standards, and support the efforts of countries and international organizations, especially the World Health Organization, to stop the spread of the virus, besiege it and eliminate it.