Saudi Arabia has temporarily stopped entry for pilgrims who intend to visit the country for the holy sites.
1 March 2020| Last updated on 5 March 2020
The Kingdom has yet to announce any changes for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia has decided to suspend Umrah visits in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the Kingdom. Visas for Muslims seeking to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are now invalid and no visas will be issued for the time being.
Existing visas and applications for tourists arriving from countries with confirmed coronavirus cases have also been suspended. The entry ban comes just months before the annual Hajj pilgrimage from July 28 to August 2 this year, and after more than 220 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Middle East.
The Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement: "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."
Officials have yet to announce when the visa and visa restrictions will be lifted. Until further notice, the move restricts visitors from reaching Mecca and the Kaaba.
Saudi Arabia hosts millions of religious pilgrims annually in Medina and Mecca.
Authorities are continuously monitoring the situation and have implemented precautions as advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
There are more than 80,000 people across the world who have been infected with the new novel coronavirus, which emerged from Wuhan, China in late December 2019.