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Umrah suspended for Saudis amid coronavirus fears

Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended its citizens and residents from performing Umrah, as well as visits to the Prophet's (PBUH) Mosque, amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
"Based on the recommendation of the committee concerned to follow up the developments of the situation of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it was decided to suspend Umrah temporarily for citizens and residents in the Kingdom," said the SPA, quoting a state official.
Last Thursday, Riyadh had placed an immediate ban on Umrah pilgrims travelling from the countries where coronavirus cases have been confirmed, including Pakistan.
All airlines have been directed to inform their passengers to wait for further orders. 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 in a statement.
Meanwhile, The Saudi Arabia has announced further measures against coronavirus for individuals who have visited countries with epidemic outbreak.
The Interior Ministry in a statement has said that measures are also applied to individuals from Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
It said Gulf Cooperation Council state citizens and Saudi nationals entering from any GCC country should inform the Saudi authorities of any travel outside the GCC in the preceding 14 days.
The steps were announced one day after Saudi Arabia registered its first coronavirus case of a Saudi who came from Iran through Bahrain.
The Kingdom had prepared 25 hospitals beforehand to handle any coronavirus cases, ministry spokesperson Mohammed Abdelali had said a day earlier, as part of the precautionary measures that included closing its borders to foreign Umrah pilgrims.

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