Jeddah: Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended entry for individuals seeking to perform Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca or visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, as well as tourists traveling from countries where the coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom’s health authorities.
From India, of the 4,000-odd pilgrims who arrive in Jeddah on a daily basis for Umrah, about 700 to 800 are from Telangana State, aviation sources told Telangana Today. In all, about 7 million Umrah pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia each year, the majority of whom land in Jeddah. Indian is among the top three countries for Umrah pilgrims coming to Saudi Arabia.
The new precautions, in place with immediate effect, are “based on the recommendations of competent health authorities to apply the highest precautionary standards and take proactive preventive measures to prevent the emergence of the coronavirus in the Kingdom and its spread,” the official news agency reported Thursday quoting Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Haj and Umrah Ministry said it has suspended the issuance of Umrah visas besides suspending visas that were already obtained by pligrims.
The Umrah pilgrims who had obtained visas can be contacted on Telephone number 00966920002814 from India and other countries, the Ministry said on Thursday.
“As per Saudi government directives, we have suspended passengers who are flying to Saudi Arabia on Umrah, visit and tourist visas,” Prabhu Chandra, regional Manager of Air India told “Telangana Today”.
These measures come at a time when there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases reported in the Middle East, where most of the individuals infected had traveled from Iran which has reported the highest death toll outside China.
This pushed several countries to suspend flights and most of its neighbours to close their borders. Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq, and the UAE have all reported coronavirus cases who had traveled to Iran recently.