Coronavirus may cost airlines around the world £23billion – Saudi Arabia suspends visas for Umrah

Coronavirus may cost airlines around the world £23billion  – Saudi Arabia suspends visas for Umrah


Travel experts, have predicted that coronavirus outbreak could cost airlines around the world £23billion.

The World Health Organization said yesterday that the virus is now spreading faster outside China.

The virus has affected many businesses across the globe.

British Airways has announced flights cancellation to virus-ravaged Italy, where more than 400 people have been infected, a surge of 25 per cent in 24 hours.

Twelve persons have been confirmed dead.

British Airways earlier cancelled dozens of flights to Milan due to lack of demand.

The crisis continues to grow in Europe as Spain, France, Croatia, Austria and Switzerland have all recorded new cases this week and Greece, North Macedonia and Georgia all recorded their first cases.

British companies are already suggesting employees reconsider whether personal or professional travel to certain countries is necessary in the current climate.

In Britain itself, 35 schools are on lockdown amid pandemic fears. At least two London offices were evacuated Wednesday after two separate employees began to show flu-like symptoms

Pupils at Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s school are self-isolating as they await test results.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended foreigners’ entry for the Umrah pilgrimage and tourism from countries where the new coronavirus has spread, as a growing number of cases outside China deepened fears of a pandemic.

The kingdom, which hosts the two holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, welcomes millions of Muslim visitors throughout the year with a peak for the hajj pilgrimage. It introduced a new tourism visa last October for 49 countries.

The ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that the suspensions were temporary but provided no timeframe for their expiry. It was unclear if the haj pilgrimage, which is scheduled to begin in late July, would be impacted.

Entry is also suspended for visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

Saudi Arabia has had no cases of the coronavirus but it has been spreading in some neighbouring countries.

The ministry did not specify people from which countries would be impacted but said the kingdom’s health authorities would determine where the outbreak constituted a danger.

Saudi Arabia’s top tourism official said this week 400,000 tourist visas had been issued since their launch in October and the country aims to attract 100 million annual visits in 2030.

The number of new coronavirus infections inside China – the source of the outbreak – was for the first time overtaken by new cases elsewhere on Wednesday, with Italy and Iran emerging as epicentres of the rapidly spreading illness.

Asia reported hundreds of new cases, Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first infection and the new disease – COVID-19 – was also detected for the first time in Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria.

U.S. health authorities, managing 59 cases – mostly Americans repatriated from a cruise ship in Japan – have said a global pandemic is likely.

President Donald Trump told Americans on Wednesday that the risk remained “very low”, and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response.

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