Middle East, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Saudi Arabia suspends prayers at two holy mosques

Entering and praying in outer squares of grand mosques in Mecca and Medina suspended in efforts to contain coronavirus

Serdar Bitmez, Hamdi Yildiz   | 20.03.2020
Saudi Arabia suspends prayers at two holy mosques Masjid al-Nabawi (The Prophet's Mosque), where the tomb of Prophet Mohammad is located, in Medina, Saudi Arabia. ( Özkan Bilgin - Anadolu Agency )

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabian authorities have stopped Muslim worshippers from entering and praying at the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

“The Presidency and the security and health authorities decided to suspend the presence and prayers in the outer squares of the Grand Mosque [Masjid al-Haram] and the Prophet’s Mosque [Masjid al-Nabawi] starting tomorrow, Friday,” the country’s official SPA news agency quoted Hani bin Hosni Haider, a spokesman for the General Presidency of Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, as saying.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia suspended congregational prayers in other mosques in the country except Masjid al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabawi.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus in the country totals 274.

The novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 160 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide totals 242,721 while the death toll exceeds 9,860 and over 85,600 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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