Saudi Arabia Suspends visits for Umrah
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Saudi Arabia – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued a directive temporarily suspending all entry into the country for the purpose of Umrah or visiting the mosque of the Holy Prophet in Medina.

The decision was taken as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the deadly Corona Virus which has claimed many lives in the Gulf region, to the kingdom.

In an announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via its Twitter handle, the suspension will also apply to entry into the country with tourist visas from countries with confirmed coronavirus outbreaks.

“The use of national identity cards (instead of passports) for travel to and from the kingdom is suspended” the statement released on Thursday stated.

Suspension does not however affect nationals who left the country using ID cards while citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCCC) wishing to leave to country after entering with their ID cards are allowed to do so.

The ministry has assured that measures were temporary and hence subject to continuous evaluation by the relevant authorities.

“Saudi Arabia renews its support for all international measures to limit the spread of the virus and therefore urges citizens to exercise caution before travelling to countries experiencing coronavirus outbreak” the statement read.

According to Aljazeera, the virus is spreading in the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world, as Brazil confirmed its first case in Latin America, while parts of China begin to lower their emergency response level as the number of new cases reported there continues to slow.

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More deaths have been reported in Iran and Italy, while South Korea on Wednesday said an 11th person had died of the disease there. Globally, at least 80,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness.

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