Coronavirus scare: Saudi Arabia suspends visa for lesser Hajj

Saudi Arabia has announced the suspension of visas to pilgrims, who want to perform Umrah (lesser Hajj), due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.

The country’s foreign ministry revealed this on Thursday via a tweet.

It explained that Saudi Arabia was “suspending entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque temporarily.”

The ministry also said it has suspended the issuance of tourist visas to residents of countries where the virus is a “danger”.

The statement added that Saudi Arabia was “suspending entry into the Kingdom with tourist visas for those coming from countries in which the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVlD-19) is a danger, according to the criteria determined by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom.”

World leaders have been on hyper-alert for the virus, which has infected over 80,000 people worldwide and is on the rage in South Korea, Italy and Iran, outside of the epicentre in Wuhan, Hubei province of China. An estimated 2,744 people have died, mostly in China.

There have been nearly 50 deaths outside China, including 12 in Italy and 22 in Iran.

While Iran has reported only 139 cases, epidemiologists say the death rate of around 2% seen elsewhere suggest that the true number of cases must be many times higher.