Saudi Arabia has suspended the issuance of visa to pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah (lesser hajj) over fears of coronavirus.
The foreign ministry made the announcement on Thursday via a tweet.
Umrah is a pilgrimage performed by Muslims at any time of the year.
The country also suspended the issuance of tourist visa to residents of countries where the virus is a “danger”.
The foreign ministry cautioned its citizens against travelling to countries where the disease is on the spread.
The ministry wrote: “In completion of the efforts taken to provide the utmost protection to the safety of citizens and residents and everyone who intends to come to the territory of the Kingdom to perform Umrah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque or for the purpose of tourism and based on the recommendations of the competent health authorities to apply the highest precautionary standards, and take proactive preventive measures to prevent the arrival of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Kingdom and its spread, the Kingdom’s government has decided to take the following precautions:
“Suspending entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque temporarily.
“Suspending entry into the Kingdom with tourist visas for those coming from countries in which the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVlD-19) is a danger, according to the criteria determined by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom.
“Suspending the use by Saudi nationals and citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council states of the national identity card to travel to and from the Kingdom, except for Saudis who are abroad if their exit from the Kingdom is with the national identity card, and citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries currently inside the Kingdom, and wish to return from it to their countries, in case that their entry was with the national identity card, in order for the concerned authorities at the entry points to verify from which countries visitors came before their arrival to the kingdom, and apply health precautions to deal with those coming from those countries.
“The Kingdom affirms that these procedures are temporary, and is subject to continuous evaluation by the competent authorities.
“The Foreign Ministry calls on citizens not to travel to countries where the new Coronavirus (COViD-19) is spreading.”
#Statement | Proactive Preventive Measures to Prevent the Arrival of the New Coronavirus (#COVID19) to the Kingdom pic.twitter.com/fuBAWq19Du— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) February 26, 2020
We ask God Almighty to spare all humanity from all harm#CoronaVirus#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/TEYvIW1Wbd— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) February 26, 2020
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