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Saudi travel ban slams Egypt's religious tourism industry

Seeking to curb the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus, Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended tourism to its holy sites to the detriment of Egypt's travel industry as the pilgrimage season approaches.

CAIRO — The spread of the novel coronavirus and the growing number of confirmed cases across the globe caused the Saudi government March 4 to expand its recently imposed tourism restrictions to include religious travel by citizens within the kingdom. The decision will disrupt umrah pilgrimages, and some Muslims fear the measures will still be in place during the five-day holy hajj pilgrimages that are to begin in late July.

The kingdom had reported five confirmed cases of the coronavirus by March 5, the first one detected March 2 in a citizen who had recently returned from Iran.

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