RIYADH – After banning Umrah for foreigners, Saudi Arabian authorities have now suspended the optional pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah for its own citizens and residents in a bid to stop spread of coronavirus, reports said on Wednesday.
The decision was announced by the state media, the BBC reported, adding that it comes after the kingdom recorded its first coronavirus case this week – a Saudi man who had travelled to Iran, the epicentre of the disease in the region.
Saudi authorities had banned foreign pilgrims on February 27 and two days later, extended the ban on nationals of Gulf countries too.
Unlike the Haj, which is mandatory for those able and performed at a specific time, the Umrah is optional, can be undertaken any time and includes only some of the rituals of the main pilgrimage.
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