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Pakistan

Web Desk
February 27, 2020

Saudi Arabia imposes temporary ban on travelers from countries affected by coronavirus, including Pakistan

Pakistan

Web Desk
Thu, Feb 27, 2020
(Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has placed a temporary ban on travelers from countries where coronavirus cases have been reported, including Pakistan, reported Geo News on Thursday. 

A statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry confirmed that the kingdom was taking precautionary steps in the wake of the coronavirus spreading from China to other countries, including Iran and Pakistan. 

On Wednesday, Pakistan reported its first two cases of the coronavirus. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza, confirmed the cases and said the government was taking precautionary measures to ensure the virus is contained. 

All airlines have been directed to inform their passengers to wait for further orders. The government is "suspending entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet's Mosque temporarily", the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.

Umrah attracts tens of thousands of Muslims from all over the globe each month. The foreign ministry said it was also suspending visas for tourists visiting from countries where the new virus is a "danger".

According to data from the Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry, as of last December, Indonesia contributed the second highest number of Umrah pilgrims with 443,879 arrivals, just below Pakistan with 495,270.

PIA says flight operations to Saudia Arabia to continue as per schedule to return of Umrah pilgrims

A statement from the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said that those who were travelling to Saudi Arabia for Umrah and on tourist visas won't be able to do so. 

Pakistanis who have permission or permanent residence of Saudi Arabia are the only ones who will be able to travel to the country. 

"Travelers can only travel to Saudi Arabia if they have permission and permanent residence. All PIA flights to Saudi Arabia will be operating normally as per schedule to service all other passengers. PIA will fully implement the instructions given by the Saudi government," read the statement.

The PIA made it clear that the national flag carrier will continue flight operations to Saudi Arabia until pilgrims haven't returned to Pakistan. 

Coronavirus spreads to 29 countries

According to Arab News Pakistan, Saudi nationals and citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council nations will not be able to use a national identity card to travel to and from the Kingdom for the time being. However, an exception to this shall be granted to Saudis returning home, and citizens of GCC countries who are in the Kingdom and want to return to their home countries provided that they left or entered the Kingdom using a national identity card.

The coronavirus outbreak has already killed more than 2,700 people, most of them in China, and spread to about 29 other countries, according to a Reuters tally. The number of confirmed cases has risen above 80,000.

The new coronavirus is believed to have originated in a market selling wildlife in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.