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Over 120 Passengers Stranded at Lucknow Airport as Saudi Arabia Stops Umrah Over Coronavirus Fears

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj said the decision to curtail the hajj was aimed at preserving global public health because of the risks associated with large gatherings. (Image: AP)

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj said the decision to curtail the hajj was aimed at preserving global public health because of the risks associated with large gatherings. (Image: AP)

Saudi Arabian government has banned Umrah till March 13 though it will not be applicable for people travelling on work visas.

Lucknow: As the spread of coronavirus leads to panic around the world, Saudi Arabia has banned entry of pilgrims from foreign countries to the holy cities of Mecca and Madina for Umrah, which is the second most important pilgrimage in Islam after Hajj.

The Saudi Arabian government has banned Umrah till March 13 and halted the entry of pilgrims from other countries due to concerns over the rapid spread of coronavirus worldwide.

However, this ban will not be applicable for people travelling on work visas.

As per information received, over a dozen flights with around 3,000 passengers from India were not allowed to land by the Saudi government on Wednesday.

The flight of Etihad Airlines from Kolkata was returned from Dubai. Meanwhile, 128 passengers were stopped at Lucknow’s Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport.

The passengers at the airport created ruckus at the airport after being asked by the authorities to leave.

“We have come from so far and now all of a sudden we are being stopped from travelling to Saudi Arabia. Had we been informed in advance it would have saved our time," one of the passengers, who returned from Lucknow airport after being not allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia said.

However, the officials at airport authority later interacted with the passengers and informed them that the same visa and ticket will be acceptable once the Saudi government lifts the ban.

As per information given by officials of Airport Authority of India, a circular has been issued from the Saudi Arabia government in this regard. “We cannot allow any passenger to fly for Saudi Arabia till further notice from the Saudi Arabia government,” they said.