Saudi embassy in Colombo stops issuing Umrah visas due to COVOD-19 | Daily News


Saudi embassy in Colombo stops issuing Umrah visas due to COVOD-19

COLOMBO – The Saudi embassy in Colombo has stopped issuing Umrah pilgrimage visas from Thursday in view of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. Saudi Ambassador in Colombo Abdulnasser Al-Harthy told the Daily News that his government has taken as a preventive measure to control the spread of the COVID-19 which has already spread to 34 countries in the world.

“This is only a temporary suspension until the situation of the crisis eases,” Harthy said, explaining that the Saudi government would monitor the global situation of the virus on a 24/7 basis to relax the restriction. According to a Colombo airport official, a flight with 225 Umrah pilgrims left for Jeddah by Saudi Arabian Airlines on Thursday morning. “There were 175 Maldivian passengers from Male and 50 Sri Lankan pilgrims from Colombo,” he noted.

Asked whether the airline would board Umrah passengers who are already possess Umrah visas, the official said that the airlines have instructions to board such pilgrims except for those passengers who had recently visited South Korea, Italy, China and Iran. According to a local Umrah travel operator, some 30,000 Haj and Umrah pilgrims travel from Colombo throughout the year. In a statement issued by the Kingdom in Riyadh on Thursday morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the concerned health authorities in Saudi Arabia have followed the developments related to the spread of the new Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, and have adopted several temporary, precautionary measures affecting travel to and from the Kingdom.

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