Saudi Arabia Closes Grand Mosque in Mecca Amid Coronavirus Fears


As more deaths continued to be reported in Europe, the United States, and Asia, Saudi Arabia announced that the Grand Mosque in Mecca will be closed to visitors except for brief times during morning and evening prayers.

The Prophet’s mosque in Medina will also be closed in similar fashion in an effort to prevent the spread of the viral novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The Islamic ritual of Sa’ee outside the Kabbah in Safa and Marwah will be postponed due to the new measures, which took effect on Thursday after a decree from the Saudi Kingdom.

Pilgrimages to the holy sites have also been suspended by the government, and food and water are no longer allowed inside the mosques according to Arab News:

The areas surrounding the Kaaba where pilgrims walk around it seven times and between the hills of Safa and Marwah where they perform a ritual called Sa’ee will remain closed until the Umrah ban is lifted. Prayers will be performed inside the Grand Mosque.

Bringing food and drink into the mosques is now prohibited and access to Zamzam containers will temporarily be stopped.

The Sacred Chamber in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah which houses the graves of Prophet Muhammad and his two companions, Abu Bakr Siddiq and Omar ibn Al-Khattab, will also be closed off to worshippers.

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to combat coronavirus seem more practical than those taken in Islamic-majority Indonesia, where disembarking passengers were sprayed with disinfectant as they descended the airplane stairway:

Video footage shows deplaning Indonesian passengers being sprayed with liquid by men in yellow hazmat gear, presumably in an attempt to fight the coronavirus.

The tanks holding the disinfectant liquid appear to be labeled “ALKOHOL.”

The passengers, many of whom are clad in religious garb and facemasks but with no eye protection, are unceremoniously doused with the spray as they descend the airplane staircase.

Clothes and personal belongings appear to be of particular interest to the hazmat crew, but some passengers take blasts direct to the face from the hose.

The video was posted to Twitter by @russian_market with the caption “They call it disinfection? Indonesia… no words.”

The Indonesian methods were harshly criticized on social media.