Manama : This year’s Hajj pilgrimage will be limited to 60,000 people within Saudi Arabia. No pilgrims from abroad will be allowed once again this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Citizens and residents living in the country are allowed to perform the Hajj this year, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a statement on Saturday. They must be vaccinated and between the ages of 18 and 65. Those taking part must be free of chronic diseases.
Those who are fully vaccinated, or received their first dose at least 14 days prior, those who are vaccinated and have recovered from COVID-19 infections are allowed to register, the ministry added.
“In light of what the whole world is witnessing due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the emergence of new strains, the pertinent authorities have continued to surveil the global health situation,” the ministry said on Twitter.
The ministry said Saudi Arabia’s top priority is to always enable Muslim pilgrims can perform Hajj and Umrah safely and securely, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported
This year’s Hajj is expected to be commenced in mid July this year. Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. In 2019, more than 25 lakhs people performed the Hajj. Of this, 18 lakhs were people from abroad.
This is the second year in a row that Saudi confines the Hajj pilgrimage to people within the country. Due to the pandemic, only 10,000 Muslims were allowed to perform Hajj last year.
Saudi Arabia had closed its borders for months to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It has banned all inbound travels from nine countries, including India, where the new variants were reported.
The country has registered so far confirmed 4,64,780 Covid cases with 7,553 deaths. Of the total cases, 4,46,960 have been recovered fully.
It has administered more than 15.4 million doses of covid vaccines, according to the World Health Organization, about half of the population.