Govt. cancels visas for Umrah due to Covid-19 fears

Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. (File Photo/Sun/Ahmed Mujthaba)

Authorities have halted issuing visas for Umrah travelers and canceled the visas previously issued, due to the fast-spreading Covid-19 disease.

The Saudi Arabian government had announced that Umrah travelers to the country would no longer be permitted on February 27, 2020, due to the virus. Saudi authorities stated that this was to protect the safety of the visitors to the Kaaba.

Islamic Ministry announced today that the visas would be halted and canceled and stated that the information had been shared with the relevant travel agencies.

The ministry stated that ensuring the safety of the travelers was the utmost priority for the government before adding that it understood the concerns and difficulties posed to the parties. The ministry remained firm that this was not a matter of discretion on the agencies and companies and called to heed the advice of the authorities.

This is the first time in recent history that Umrah pilgrimages from the Maldives have been canceled by the Saudi government. In 2018, the country tightened visas after the Mers virus began to spread, but refrained from halting pilgrimages.

 A positive case for the Covid-19 has been tested in Saudi Arabia and the authorities stated that the person had traveled to Iran before returning via Bahrain. The person had failed to inform the authorities of his visit to Iran.