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.
The new precautions are “based on the recommendations of the 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Twitter.
These measures come at a time when 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 a reported death toll standing at 19, the highest outside China.
The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.
The kingdom is also suspending entry by citizens from Gulf States traveling under their national IDs, as well as travel by Saudis to the Gulf States. Saudis abroad who want to return or Gulf citizens in Saudi Arabia who wish to leave may do so, according to the statement.
This pushed several countries to suspend flights and most of Iran’s neighbors to close their borders. Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq, and the UAE have all reported coronavirus cases who had traveled to Iran recently.