Saudi Arabia on Wednesday suspended air travel to and from India, Brazil and Argentina, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, people with travel history to any of the mentioned countries 14 days prior to their arrival to the Kingdom, have also been barred.
“Suspending travel to and from the following countries (India, Brazil, and Argentina) including any person who has been in any of the mentioned countries in the last (14) days prior to their arrival to the Kingdom,” General Authority of Civil Aviation said in a statement.
However, those who have official government invitations are excluded.
Saudi Arabia to re-allow umrah pilgrimage
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has allowed pilgrims residing inside the country to undertake the umrah pilgrimage beginning on October 4, after a seven-month pause due to coronavirus concerns, state news agency SPA reported.
Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina undertaken any time of the year, attracting 19 million people last year.
Saudi Arabia had instituted a freeze on umrah in March.
It will now allow 6,000 citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform umrah daily, representing 30% of a revised capacity of 20,000 that takes into account precautionary health measures, SPA added. That will expand to 75% of capacity on October 18.
Beginning November 1, Saudi Arabia will allow visitors from specific countries deemed safe to perform umrah at 100% of the revised capacity, until the end of the pandemic, SPA said.
This year, Saudi Arabia conducted a limited haj, the larger pilgrimage that usually attracts around 3 million people, for a few thousand citizens and residents.
Official data show haj and umrah earn the kingdom about 12 billion USD a year.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia reported 330,798 total cases of coronavirus and 4,542 deaths, as cases in the Gulf region topped 800,000.
Global COVID-19 cases
The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 31.5 million, while the deaths have increased to more than 969,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As of Wednesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 31,517,087 and the fatalities rose to 969,578, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.
The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 6,896,218 and 200,786, respectively, according to the CSSE.
India comes in second place in terms of cases at 5,562,663, while the country`s death toll soared to 90,020.
The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are:
- Brazil (4,591,364)
- Russia (1,111,157)
- Colombia (777,537)
- Peru (768,895)
- Mexico (705,263)
- Spain (682,267)
- South Africa (663,282)
- Argentina (652,174)
- France (507,150)
- Chile (448,523)
- Iran (429,193)
- UK (406,058)
- Bangladesh (352,178)
- Saudi Arabia (330,798)
- Iraq (327,580)