The decision has been taken to stop spread of Coronavirus – the disease which started from China and has so far taken thousands of life
Riyadh: In a rarest of rare case, Saudi Arabia has banned the entry of Umrah pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah till further order.
The decision has been taken to stop spread of Coronavirus – the disease which started from China and has so far taken thousands of life.
“Saudi Arabia has placed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims in an attempt to ensure public safety by preventing the spread of the coronavirus”, Saudi Press Agency said.
“Most foreign pilgrims often visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah before or after the completion of their religious duties in Makkah, this has also been halted”, the government run SPA said.
“Tourist-visa holders from countries judged to pose a particularly high risk of spreading the virus will also be denied entry”, it said.
“Saudi nationals and citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council nations will not be able to use a national identity card to travel to and from the Kingdom for the time being”, the agency said.
“Exceptions to this shall be granted to Saudis returning home, and citizens of GCC countries who are in the Kingdom and want to return to their home countries, provided that they left or entered the Kingdom using a national identity card”, it said.
‘Rarest of Rare Moment’
Millions of people from all across the world on almost daily basis travel to Makkah and Madina – the two holiest places of the Muslim world, to perform Umrah.
This is the rarest of rare moment in the history when entry of pilgrims in the two holy cities will be banned. Health apprehensions were earlier raised during the outbreak of Swine Flu in 2009 ahead of Haj. However, the Saudi Arabia made the elaborate arrangement so that those performing Haj are in no way harmed.
While travel plan for Umrah can be delayed and adjusted as per the convenience, Haj is performed on a fixed schedule that cannot be altered.
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