Saudi Arabia suspended visas on Thursday for pilgrims who wished to visit Mecca due to fears about coronavirus, the foreign ministry reported.
The government is “suspending entry into the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and temporarily visiting the Mosque of the Prophet,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca which can be performed at any time of year.
Each month, Umrah attracts tens of thousands of devout Muslims from around the globe.
The foreign ministry also said that it would suspend visas for visitors visiting countries where the new virus is a “threat”
Even as the number of fresh cases declines at the epicenter of the disease in China, parts of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East have undergone a sudden increase.
Iran has emerged as the region’s main hotspot, where 15 people have succumbed to the disease— officially known as COVID-19.
More cases were also confirmed this week by the Gulf states of Kuwait and Bahrain.