200130 kerala coronavirus
Medical staff with protective clothing are seen inside a ward specialised in receiving any person who may have been infected with coronavirus, at the Rajiv Ghandhi Government General hospital in Chennai, India. Image Credit: Reuters

Kozhikode: As Saudi Arabia early Thursday morning enforced a temporary ban on pilgrims coming from abroad to visit Mecca for Umrah in the wake of coronavirus scare, over 200 persons were stopped at Kozhikode airport from travelling to that country.

More than 120 pilgrims who had arrived at the airport here in the morning were stopped at the checking counter, whereas 87 were allowed to board an aircraft but later directed to deplane.

"We reached the airport around 4 am. While some were asked to alight from the aircraft after checks, others were not even allowed to check in at the counter. We do not know when the ban will be lifted," said a pilgrim.

The Umrah is a pilgrimage undertaken to Mecca by Muslims at any time of the year, in contrast to Haj that has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar.