• Sunday, July 03, 2022

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Saudi Arabia suspends Mecca pilgrimage

Pilgrims walk around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca on February 27, 2020. (Photo: ABDULGHANI BASHEER/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Eastern Eye Staff

SAUDI ARABIA has barred entry of pilgrims headed to Mecca, taking into view the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Though no cases had been reported in the kingdom as yet, authorities announced the extraordinary decision after at least 240 cases of infection were confirmed around the Middle East, mainly in Iran.

26 deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, along with 245 cases of people infected.

“The kingdom’s government has decided to take the following precautions: suspending entry to the kingdom for the purpose of umrah and visit to the Prophet’s mosque temporarily,’ the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.

While the annual Haj pilgrimage starts only in July, about seven million Muslims travel throughout the year to Mecca for umrah or ‘minor Haj’.

The statement said tourist visas of “those coming from countries in which the spread of the new coronavirus is a danger” would be suspended.

Globally, coronavirus has killed about 3,000 people and infected more than 82,000.

Experts warned that the world was facing the “tipping point” of a pandemic.

Eastern Eye

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