In a statement that was published on February 28 by the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry, the country has decided to temporarily suspend the entry of all citizens from the Gulf Cooperation Council member states to Mecca and Medina. The statement also clarified that the decision will exclude all citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council member states that were already in Saudi Arabia for more than 14 continuous days and didn't show any symptoms of the new coronavirus.
The Gulf Cooperation Council consists of all Arab states in the Persian Gul, all except Iraq. The member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In an earlier statement on February 27, Saudi Arabia suspended the entry of individuals who wanted to perform the 'Umrah' pilgrimage in Mecca or to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. It has also prohibited the entry of all tourists who are travelling from countries where the coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom’s health authorities.
While Saudi Arabia may have denied entry of all who want to take part in the Umrah pilgrimage, it has not been able to shake the faith of those that still wish to go and offer prayers at the Grand Mosque. Tens and thousands of pilgrims have continued to offer prayers at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia despite the rising cases of coronavirus. According to sources, the Grand Mosque was packed with several thousands of worshippers on February 28, showing that faith trumps health concerns and the challenge of disease control for the worshippers.
As per reports, the floors of the Grand Mosque are washed at least four times a day and the roughly 13,5000 carpets in the areas that are designated for prayer are regularly cleaned and disinfected. According to Grand Mosque official Jaber Wadani, the authorities are using the best cleaning and sterilisation methods available to them and further added that the carpets were scrubbed and perfumed daily.