Saudi Arabia bans Filipinos with tourist or pilgrimage visas over coronavirus fears
Muslim pilgrims wear masks at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on Feb. 28, 2020.
AFP/Abdel Ghani Bashir
Saudi Arabia bans Filipinos with tourist or pilgrimage visas over coronavirus fears
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - March 5, 2020 - 10:58am

MANILA, Philippines — Saudi Arabia is enforcing a temporary travel ban on foreign nationals, including Filipinos, with pilgrimage and tourist visas as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The Department of Foreign Affairs announced late Wednesday that the travel restriction covers umrah visa holders and tourist visa holders from countries “judged to pose a particularly high risk” of spreading the potentially deadly virus.

Saudi Arabia suspended Wednesday the umrah pilgrimage, which attracts millions of Muslims globally each year. Umrah refers to the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year.

The announcement came days after the kingdom confirmed its first case of new coronavirus.

The Saudi government is also suspending indefinitely the issuance of tourist visas and entry visas for the purpose of umrah, visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

But Filipinos who have visas for employment, work visit, business visit and family visit are still allowed to enter the oil-rich kingdom, DFA said.

Last year, Saudi Arabia offered tourist visas for the first time in a bid to kickstart tourism in the desert kingdom endowed with rich Bedouin heritage and archaeological sites.

The virus has spread to some 80 countries and infected more 95,000 people after first emerging in China late last year. The global death toll from the epidemic stood at 3,200 Tuesday. — with report from Agence France-Presse 

Filipino nationals enroute to Saudi Arabia who will encounter any issues or problems on the travel restriction may the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh at (+966-11) 482-0507 or the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah at (+966-12) 667-0925 and (+966-12) 669-6303.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: December 2, 2020 - 10:44am

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

December 2, 2020 - 10:44am

Johns Hopkins University says the United States, the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and in the throes of a surge in cases, registered more than 2,500 deaths in a 24-hour period, the highest total since late April.

More than 180,000 new infections were recorded, according to real-time data provided by the Baltimore-based university at 8:30 pm (0130 GMT Wednesday).

The last time the daily death toll was higher than Tuesday's total of 2,562 was in late April, at the height of the pandemic's first wave. — AFP

December 1, 2020 - 9:45pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,468,873 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Tuesday.

At least 63,227,470 cases have been registered. Of these, at least 40,255,800 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

December 1, 2020 - 4:06pm

The Department of Health reports 1,298 additional cases of the coronavirus disease. This brings the national tall to 32,925.

To date, there are 25,725 active. The health department registers 27 new deaths and 135 more recoveries.

December 1, 2020 - 2:02pm

The UN says that $35 billion would be needed for aid in 2021, as the pandemic leaves tens of millions more people in crisis, and with the risk of multiple famines looming.

The world body's annual Global Humanitarian Overview estimated that 235 million people worldwide will need some form of emergency assistance next year -- a staggering 40-percent increase in the past year.

"The increase arises almost entirely because of Covid-19," United Nations emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock says. — AFP 

December 1, 2020 - 12:36pm

Canada's budget deficit is projected to balloon to a record US$284 billion as government spending skyrockets to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the finance minister announces. 

The amount for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which began on April 1, is higher than an estimate of Can$343 billion announced in July and almost 20 times higher than the shortfall in the last budget released in March 2019, before the pandemic.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland also says the government was preparing to spend another Can$70 billion to Can$100 billion over three years to jolt the economy once the pandemic is over. — AFP 

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