Until this time, the Saudi government still bans Muslims from all over the world from performing umrah (minor hajj) pilgrimage
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh has called on Indonesian residents in Saudi Arabia not to travel to Macca and Medina for the time being amid the ongoing concerns over the spread of novel coronavirus diseases.

"Until this time, the Saudi government still bans Muslims from all over the world from performing umrah (minor hajj) pilgrimage," the embassy revealed in a press statement on Sunday.

The temporary ban is imposed on the Saudi residents and expatriates who stay inside and outside the two cities, the Indonesian embassy said.

The Saudi authorities also restrict the arrivals of flights from United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain at three international airports -- King Khalid, King Abdulaziz, and King Fahd in Dammam.

This latest policy has been made effective since March 7, 2020. On the same day, the Saudi Ministry of Sports also prevent people from attending sporting events.

Over such ongoing concerns regarding the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak which has killed more than 3,600 people and infected at least 106,400 people all over the world, the Saudi Government has been banning the inflow of foreign umrah pilgrims since February 27.

Among the countries reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases are nations with Muslim-majority populations, including the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Oman, Egypt, and Indonesia.

Indonesia respected the decision saying that it is aimed to prioritize the Saudi citizens' health and safety amid the spread of COVID-19 that continues to lead to rising number of casualties.

"We respect (the decision), as the Saudi Arabian government is prioritizing health," President Joko Widodo stated recently.

Early this week, Indonesia's Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi affirmed that preparations for the Hajj pilgrimage in 2020 had run as scheduled, notwithstanding the global uncertainty over the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Preparations are still on for the Hajj pilgrimage, and no changes are expected," Razi stated.

Saudi Arabia, where the Islamic Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina are located, is a destination for Muslims worldwide that are keen to perform Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.

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Translator: Suwanti, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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