Saudi Arabia has taken the unprecedented step of banning foreign religious pilgrims from visiting the kingdom in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca—the holiest city for Muslims—is taken by millions of devout followers from around the world every year.
It can be undertaken at any time of year, but most make their journey during the annual hajj pilgrimage, which is due to start in late July.
Saudi authorities on Thursday, February 27, 2020, gave no indication how long the ban will last—only saying it would temporarily suspend giving out tourist visas “for those coming from countries in which the spread of the new coronavirus is a danger.”
Saudi Arabia has not confirmed any cases of the virus so far.
Meanwhile, in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked for all elementary, junior high, and high schools across the country to close from Monday until April. Virus cases are surging in Japan, exceeding 200 as of Thursday.
Hattip to The Guardian