Saudi Arabia on Wednesday imposed a temporary ban on locals and residents from performing minor pilgrimage (Umrah) over fears of the novel coronavirus, the official SPA news agency reported.

"The decision will be reviewed continuously and its implementation will be suspended when its causes are gone," SPA said, citing a senior Interior Ministry source.

On Feb. 27, Saudi Arabia suspended the entry of pilgrims seeking to perform Umrah over the disease.

The suspension also applies to those seeking to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Madinah.

Umrah can be performed at any time during the year.

First detected in Wuhan, China in December, the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has spread to at least 73 countries.

The global death toll from the virus is over 3,000, with more than 89,000 infected.

After declaring the outbreak an international health emergency, last week the World Health Organization raised the global risk level to very high.

As part of their efforts to contain the outbreak, many governments have closed their borders and suspended land and air travel with the worst-affected countries such as China and Italy.