Africa: Saudi Arabia Bans Pilgrims From Mecca

Saudi Arabia on map.
27 February 2020

Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned the entry of Muslim pilgrims to the holy city of Mecca and Medina over coronavirus fears.

The decision will stop foreigners from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure the world's 1.8 billion Muslims pray toward five times a day for the annual Hajj Pilgrimage.

The Islamic pilgrimage can be performed at any time of year but some prefer to perform it during the holy month of Ramadan that starts this year in the last week of April.

"The government is suspending entry to the kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet's Mosque temporarily," the Saudi Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

This is not the first time Saudi Arabia has issued such a ban. In 2014 they restricted pilgrims from some countries and regions from entering the country because of Ebola.

The Islamic Kingdom has not reported any confirmed cases of the coronavirus inside the country.

REPORTED CASES

However, seven Saudi citizens who traveled to Iran were among the cases reported in neighboring Kuwait and Bahrain, where dozens of infections have been confirmed.

So far 2,807 deaths have been confirmed while 82,222 cases have been recorded.

According to Worldometer, 32,957 people have recovered from the virus that was first reported in the city of Wuhan China in January 2020.

China has reported the most death at 2,747 while Iran is second with 22 death and South Korea has 13 death recorded as of Thursday.

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