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Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah pilgrimage over coronavirus fears

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has suspended entry into the country for  individuals seeking to perform Umrah or visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Guidelines to prevent the arrival of the virus to the Kingdom also include the suspension of travel to and from Saudi Arabia for GCC citizens using national ID cards.

There is also a suspension of tourist visa entries for those coming from countries in which the spread of the virus is a danger.

Nearly 7 million Umrah pilgrims arrive in the Kingdom each year, with the majority landing at airports in Jeddah and Madinah.

— Developing story.



Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Kingdom closely following developments in spread of new Coronavirus, decides to take several precautionary measures to prevent virus from reaching kingdom

Riyadh, February 26, 2020, SPA — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the competent health authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are closely following the developments of the spread of the new the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Ministry affirms the keenness of the Kingdom’s government through those authorities 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, control it and eliminate it.

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:

1- Suspending entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque temporarily.
2- Suspending entry into the Kingdom with tourist visas for those coming from countries in which the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a danger, according to the criteria determined by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom.
3- 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 Kingdom renews its support for all international measures taken to limit the spread of the virus.
The Foreign Ministry calls on citizens not to travel to countries where the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading.
02:10 LOCAL TIME 23:10 GMT