Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended entry into the country for Muslims seeking to perform Umrah due to fears over the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, local media reported Thursday.
Citing the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry, the Arab News website reported that the suspension also applies to those seeking to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Umrah, or the lesser pilgrimage, can be performed at any time during the year.
The novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has sounded global alarms, with China, the epicenter of an outbreak, reporting over 2,700 deaths and health experts grappling to find a cure.
Outside mainland China, the virus has spread to more than 30 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Singapore, France, Russia, Spain and India.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international health emergency./aa