Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced the suspension of visas to Islam's holiest sites for the Umrah pilgrimage. This move was triggered by the fear of coronavirus that raises question over the hajj, to commence in July. The umrah, which refers to Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and can be undertaken at any time of the year, this exercise attracts tens of thousands of devout Muslims from all nook and cranny of the globe every month.
Saudi Arabia which so far has no report of the virus has temporarily suspended entry for both individuals visiting the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, as well as a tourist travelling from countries where the deadly coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom health authorities.
The latest development in Saudi Arabia is to take precautionary measures and take proactive preventive measures to prevent the emergence of the coronavirus in the Kingdom and its spread based on the recommendations of the competent health authorities.
Saudi Arabia custodianship of Mecca and Medina is Islam's two holiest cities also seen as the Kingdom's most powerful source of political legitimacy. Although no clarity on how the move would affect the annual hajj pilgrimage due to kick off in late July.