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Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned all religious visits to the country, including to the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina, in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus Covid-19 from other infected Middle Eastern countries.

The country has also banned the entry of tourism visa-holders from countries that have confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection.

These steps are temporary and will be continuously reviewed, the country’s foreign ministry said.

Saudi Arabia has also stopped the entry of travellers from the Gulf Cooperation Council states using the national ID cards. This move is extended to the Saudi nationals in other GCC states.

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However, any Saudi national who wishes to return to the country and other Arab country nationals who want to leave are permitted to do so.

Saudi Arabia has not recorded any cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus yet, but many other gulf countries have recorded more than ten cases.

Iran is the most affected country in the Middle East, with 245 cases and 26 deaths. Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Oman, Israel, Lebanon and Egypt have also confirmed cases.

The epidemic has so far killed more than 2,800 and infected around 82,000 people around the world.