Saudi hajj ministry gets more than 3,000 phone calls since announcing umrah halt

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Tuesday (Mar 3) it has responded to 3,109 telephone calls and 1,372 emails since it announced on Feb 27 the temporary suspension of umrah due to the COVID-19.

Most of the telephone calls, 2,750, were in Arabic and 359 were in English, according to the ministry. 2,001 came from outside the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia on Feb 27 temporarily suspended entry into the Kingdom for the purpose of umrah or visiting the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, citing “proactive preventive measures to prevent the arrival of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Kingdom and its spread”.

The ministry said on Mar 1 that it had set up an online facility to process refunds of umrah visa fees and service charges for affected would-be pilgrims and agents.

7,457,663 pilgrims performed the umrah during the 1440 Islamic year, equivalent to Sep 11, 2018 to Aug 2, 2019, according to data from the Saudi hajj ministry.

Saudi Arabia announced its first case of the COVID-19 on Mar 2.