Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Umrah, tourism amid coronavirus

Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended foreigners’ entry for Umrah and tourism from countries where the new coronavirus has spread, as a growing number of cases outside China deepened fears of a pandemic.

The kingdom, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Makkah and Madina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year with a peak for Haj. It introduced a new tourism visa last October for 49 countries.

The ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that the suspensions were temporary but provided no timeframe for their expiry. It was unclear if Haj, which is scheduled to begin in late July, would be impacted.

Entry is also suspended for visits to Masjid-e-Nabvi in Madina.

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