Wednesday, March 4, 2020

BREAKING: Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia bars citizens, residents from umrah

File: Muslim worshippers pray around the Kaaba, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca. Photo: AFP

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday suspended the year-round “umrah” pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina over coronavirus fears, the interior ministry said.

The Gulf state has decided “to suspend umrah temporarily for citizens and residents in the kingdom”, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The decision comes after Saudi Arabia last week suspended visas for the pilgrimage and barred citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council from entering two of Islam’s holiest cities.