Saudi Arabia has suspended entry to Mecca and Medina to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
27 February 2020| Last updated on 27 February 2020
Travelling into the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and the Prophet's Mosque has been restricted
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially prohibited religious pilgrims from visiting Mecca or Medina in an effort to prevent spread of coronavirus.
In a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials said they have been following developments of the virus and will be implementing "approved international standards" by placing a temporary ban on religious pilgrimages.
Travellers who wish to come into the Kingdom for Umrah or to visit the Prophet's Mosque will not be given entry.
Tourists will be subjected to thorough checks on their travel history
Officials have also suspended entry for those visiting Saudi Arabia with the new tourist visa if they are travelling from countries where the virus is present. Other than China, where a large majority of cases are from, people coming from Singapore, Japan, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, the United States, Iran, Pakistan, etc. are prohibited entry.
Local officials at Saudi's entry points will be running thorough checks on passengers' recent travel history. Health authorities are following all necessary precautionary measures as advised by the World Health Organisation.
Saudi nationals, as well as GCC citizens, will also not be able to use their National Identity Card to gain entry to the Kingdom for now. Exceptions will be made to Saudi nationals who are returning home and GCC citizens who wish to return to their home country, provided that they travelled to the Kingdom using a National Identity Card.
Kingdom officials would like to remind travellers and residents that the suspension is temporary and will be continuously evaluated by the health authorities.
The Foreign Ministry has called on Saudi nationals to limit their travels to countries where the coronavirus (covid-19) is active, more so to countries that are most affected by the virus in order to limit its spread.
Saudi Arabia confirms new cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom
The country sees an estimated 7 million religious pilgrims each year, with visitors arriving at Jeddah and Medina.
As of publishing, there are seven confirmed cases of coronavirus among Saudi citizens who are in Kuwait and Bahrain.