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Saudi Arabia Bans Pilgrims Over Coronavirus Fears As It Spreads To More Nations

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As coronavirus continues to spread to more countries, Saudi Arabia banned foreign pilgrims entering the country to prevent the spread of the deadly virus in the Kingdom.

The oil rich country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it is suspending entry for people with a tourist visa, if they come from coronavirus-hit countries.

It is not clear if the temporary ban on religious pilgrims from visiting Mecca or Medina will affect the Hajj pilgrimage, which is scheduled to start in July.

Emirates airline said passengers from a number of countries, including China, Japan, Italy, Iran, India and Pakistan, won't be allowed to fly with them to Saudi Arabia.

While the rate of infection slowed in China, the outbreak is surging outside with 7 countries confirming new coronavirus cases.

In 11 European countries, the infections are being traced back to the dramatic outbreak in Italy.

The World Health Organization said Thursday that coronavirus infections were reported in 44 countries.

A global map published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 42 countries. They are China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people worldwide, and infected more than 82,000 others, threatening to become a worldwide pandemic.

South Korea is the second worst-affected country, where there are now more than 1,700 cases.

Japan plans to close all schools from March 2 over COVID-19 concern.

Australia has extended ban on foreign visitors from mainland China.

Coronavirus fears forced the postponement of many international sports events, and business organizations asking their staff to leave office.

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