Amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, Saudi Arabia has imposed temporary ban on local pilgrims from performing Umrah as experts suggested that COVID-19 is highly contagious and can permeate faster in crowds.
Under the temporary ban Saudi nationals and residents living in the kingdom wanting to perform Umrah will also not be allowed into the holiest sites.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that it is working to help foreign pilgrims still in the kingdom return to their countries, Arab News reported on Wednesday.
After banning Umrah pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia restricts entry for GCC citizens
A day earlier, Saudi Arabia had barred citizens and residents of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries from entering the kingdom for 14 days after returning from outside the region due to coronavirus concerns.
The kingdom reported its first case of the deadly disease on Monday in a Saudi national returning from Iran, which has reported the most deaths outside China, where the flu-like disease originated.
Saudi Arabia took several measures last week to prevent the spread of the virus to the kingdom, banning foreigners arriving for the Muslim Umrah pilgrimage, Gulf Arab citizens visiting Makkah and Medina, and tourists from at least 25 states where the virus has been found.
The story originally appeared on Arab News