SHAFAQNA- IQNA: The Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina were reopened on Friday after they were closed for disinfection operations to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
According to Sky News Arabia, the Saudi state television announced on Friday morning that the two mosques are open to worshippers.
They had been closed amid growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
An official with the General Presidency of Two Holy Mosques said the two places will be closed after Isha (night) prayers and remain closed until an hour before Sahahr (dawn) prayers every day during which times sanitizing operations will be carried out.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia banned its citizens and other residents of the kingdom from performing Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca or visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina amid the rapid spread of a coronavirus worldwide, expanding an earlier such ban on foreigners.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement that the kingdom had decided “to suspend Umrah temporarily for citizens and residents in the kingdom.”
They were also barred from “visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina”, according to a Foreign Ministry tweet.
The aim is to “limit the spread of the coronavirus and prevent its access to the two holy mosques, which are witnessing permanent and intense crowds, which makes the issue of securing these crowds of utmost importance,” a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry said.
A week earlier, Saudi authorities imposed a ban on overseas pilgrims visiting the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
The move comes as many world countries are grappling with a growing coronavirus outbreak originating from China.
There are concerns that Saudi Arabia — which receives nearly 7 million Umrah pilgrims every year — is not being transparent about how badly it has been hit by the virus.
Saudi Arabia only confirmed five cases so far.
Riyadh’s last week decision to ban Umrah alone disrupted travel for thousands of Muslims already headed to the kingdom and potentially affects plans later this year for millions more ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the annual Hajj pilgrimage.