On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia suspended the umrah, or minor pilgrimage, for its own citizens and residents over fears of the coronavirus spreading to Isl
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia suspended the umrah, or minor pilgrimage, for its own citizens and residents over fears of the coronavirus spreading to Islam’s holiest cities. It came after the kingdom last week closed the sites to foreign pilgrims and traditional tourists from some 25 countries to stop the spread of the virus. It also said that citizens and residents of Gulf Cooperation Council countries wishing to enter must wait 14 days after returning from outside the region. Saudi Arabia has reported five cases of the coronavirus.
It was not clear from the Al-Ekhbariya report if pilgrims would be allowed to return to the sites. A Saudi official told AFP the decision to close the area was “unprecedented”. State television on Thursday relayed images of an empty white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba – a large black cube structure inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque – which is usually packed with tens of thousands of pilgrims.