Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah, tourism

Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah, tourism

Riyadh (Web Desk): Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended foreigners' entry for Umrah and tourism from countries where the new coronavirus has spread.

Entry is suspended for visits to Masjid-e-Nabvi in Madina as a growing number of cases outside China deepened fears of a pandemic.

The ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that the suspensions were temporary but provided no timeframe for their expiry. It was unclear if Hajj, which is scheduled to begin in late July, would be impacted.

However, the ministry did not specify people from which countries would be impacted but said the kingdom's health authorities would determine where the outbreak constituted a danger.

The kingdom, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Makkah and Madina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year with a peak for Hajj. It introduced a new tourism visa last October for 49 countries.

Saudi Arabia has had no cases of the coronavirus but it has been spreading in some neighbouring countries.