Coronavirus prompts Saudi Arabia to limit travel to holy sites – months ahead of hajj pilgrimage


Saudi Arabia on Thursday said it will block foreigners from traveling to Mecca and the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure at the center of the annual hajj pilgrimage, out of concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

The travel limits also apply to the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina, according to the Associated Press.

In addition, Saudi officials have halted entry to the kingdom by those with tourist visas from countries affected by coronavirus, the AP reported.

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, during the hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 13, 2019. (Associated Press)​​​​​

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, during the hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 13, 2019. (Associated Press)​​​​​

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The efforts to shield Islam’s holiest sites come months ahead of the annual hajj, which will begin in July. The number of pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia who attend the event can reach 2 million or more.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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