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A Corona-free Umrah

A Corona-free Umrah

Friday, 28 February, 2020 - 10:45
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

In many countries around the world, starting internationally from China and passing regionally through Iran, the new Coronavirus has spread and countries are racing to take precautions to deter this illness before it turns into a pandemic.

Cities are closed, flights are halted and citizens are banned from flying from and to specific countries. All of these precautions, among others, are meant to limit the impact of Corona and its spread. With Saudi Arabia taking the decision to temporarily suspend Umrah-goers from entering, it can be said that the Kingdom is one of the few countries in the world that have taken strict precautionary measures before a single case of Coronavirus was recorded.

The decision was quickly welcomed by the President of the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia. The Saudi precautions indicate that it does not take its role lightly, not only to protect the health of its citizens and residents but also to protect the world from this catastrophic spread that we might have seen if Umrah remained open and those infected mixed with Umrah-goers.

What is happening now around the world in terms of Corona is limited in comparison to what the mixing of hundreds of thousands of crowds around the clock would have caused. No doubt that the level of alertness is escalating internationally as the illness turns into a pandemic. In fact, the French president announced that it has already turned into a pandemic. The world has indeed witnessed many similar illnesses with minimal losses, but in such situations, one cannot but take extreme precautionary measures which should remain at the highest levels to prevent the worst.

This is what all countries in the world need to do, especially in densely crowded places that would speed up the spread of the virus. Saudi Arabia, for example, has the best crowd-controlling systems which have been successfully employed in the Hajj and Umrah seasons. Even considering illnesses in past times, Saudi Arabia was able to prevent illnesses from spreading among its citizens, but this time it's much more serious.

With no current indications that its spread will be limited, the decision to suspend Umrah temporarily and to constantly review this decision was taken until the world is reassured that the Coronavirus is gone. The doors would immediately reopen once the virus gets under control.

Many questions about Coronavirus remain unanswered and there is no sign that its spread can be limited internationally. This is what the analysis published by Robert Koch Institute states. The new advanced generation of the Coronavirus will have a global impact, not only in terms of those directly infected by the virus but also by the precautions the world will take, especially in light of accusations against certain countries that they are not implementing transparent standards and are misleading the world on what is happening inside them.

After all, countries are connected and without taking the necessary measures, no matter how strict, it will be impossible to limit this illness which everyone fears that it will develop into a pandemic.

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