Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia suspends entry for pilgrims to Mecca

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The Saudi Arabian government has officially stopped all umrah travels for worldwide pilgrims to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Wisma Putra will verify with Saudi Arabia news that it is temporarily suspending Umrah visas over the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. In 2012, it was the last country to submit women athletes for the Olympics as the country bowed down to the International Olympic Committee. It provided no time frame for when they will be lifted.

The Foreign Ministry made the statement on its official Twitter account at 10.10am today.

The new slogan's reveal coincided with the launching of the new Saudi tourist visa to visitors from all over the world, granting citizens of 49 countries access to the kingdom, either online or upon arrival.

Kuwait and Bahrain today reported a surge in cases, while Oman and Algeria reported their first cases.

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The event is a key rite of passage for Muslims and a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites.

The coronavirus is spreading across the Middle East, with Iran being the worst hit.

The pilgrimage forms a crucial source of revenue for the government, which hopes to welcome 30 million pilgrims annually to the kingdom by 2030.

Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence has introduced a series of reforms including allowing concerts, reopening cinemas, and lifting a prohibition on women driving as part of a modernisation drive.

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