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Saudi Arabia suspends prayers at two holy mosques

March 20, 2020 at 8:25 am

An aerial view shows an empty white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba in Makkah’s Grand Mosque, on 6 March 2020. [BANDAR ALDANDANI/AFP via Getty Images]

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

“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 Makkah’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.

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