March 6, 2020 / 2:49 AM / a month ago

Saudi Arabia reopens Mecca, Medina holy sites after coronavirus closure: state TV

FILE PHOTO: Cleaners wear protective face masks, following the outbreak of the coronavirus, as they swipe the floor at the Kaaba in the Grand mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Ganoo Essa

CAIRO (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia reopened two of the most holy religious sites in Islam, Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and Al-Masjid al Nabawy in Medina, after they were closed for sterilization to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, state TV Al-Ekhbariya reported on Friday.

Saudi Arabia closed the sites to foreign pilgrims and traditional tourists from some 25 countries to stop the spread of the virus. It also said that citizens and residents of Gulf Cooperation Council countries wishing to enter must wait 14 days after returning from outside the region.

Saudi Arabia has reported five cases of the coronavirus.

It was not clear from the Al-Ekhbariya report if pilgrims would be allowed to return to the sites.

(This story corrects typographical error in headline.)

Reporting by Samar Hassan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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