Dhaka: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has imposed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country. Visit to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah has also been halted.
The decision came suddenly at night on February 26 from the government of Saudi. As a result, thousands of Umrah pilgrims scheduled to fly to the kingdom from Dhaka today was denied to board their respective flights at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
The carriers that fly Umrah pilgrims from Dhaka to Saudi Arabia include Saudia, Emirates, Air Arabia and Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
Daily, Saudia carries 400 Umrah pilgrims on average, Emirates 200 and Biman 500, among others, from Dhaka to KSA, totalling an amount close to 2000, who all suffered and had to return back home from Dhaka airport today due to the ban on entry of Umrah pilgrims to Saudi for an indefinite period of time until the coronavirus situation normalises.
Tourists from countries posing a particularly high risk of spreading coronavirus will also be denied entry, according to reports.
For the time being, Saudis and citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council nations will not be able to use a national identity card to travel to and from KSA. But, Saudis returning home and GCC citizens willing to go back to their home countries are exception to this rule.
Nearly seven million Umrah pilgrims visit the Kingdom each year, the majority of whom arrive at airports in Jeddah and Madinah, according to reports.
Coronavirus, originated from Wuhan in China, has infected more than 81,000 people globally and killed more than 2,700 people.
KSA stressed that the restrictions are temporary and urged its citizens not to travel to countries worst affected by the coronavirus.
Seven Saudis were among the latest coronavirus cases in Bahrain and Kuwait.