Saudi Arabia's hajj minister urged Muslims on Tuesday to temporarily defer preparations for this year's hajj amid coronavirus outbreak.
The Kingdom's Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten said: "Saudi Arabia is fully ready to serve pilgrims and umrah seekers," hajj minister Mohammad Benten told the state-run Al-Ekhbariya television.
"But under the current circumstances, as we are talking about the global pandemic... the kingdom is keen to protect the health of Muslims and citizens and so we have asked our brother Muslims in all countries to wait before doing (hajj) contracts until the situation is clear." as quoted by the Bloomberg.
In early March, Saudi Arabia imposed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims to contain the spread of coronavirus to Islam's holiest cities - n unprecedented move that raised concern over the annual hajj. To combat the situation, the Kingdomhas prohibited movement between its provinces, imposed a partial nationwide curfew and is no longer issuing visas for Muslims wanting to visit the holy sites of Mecca and Medina.
The country has also stopped all nationals and residents from visiting the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. It is worth noting that As of 30 March, Saudi Arabia reported eight deaths and 1,453 confirmed cases.
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