Saudi Arabia bans foreign travelers from visiting Haj due to COVID-19 – –

Saudi Arabia bans foreign travelers from visiting Haj due to COVID-19 – –

Saudi Arabia has limited the annual Haj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year in a row in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.

Only people aged 18 to 65, vaccinated or immunized against the virus, and free from chronic diseases, will be able to participate, said the ministry which manages the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in a statement carried by the SPA.

It also set a maximum of 60,000 participants.

“The decision (has been taken) to guarantee the security of the haj amid uncertainty over the coronavirus,” the kingdom’s health minister, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, said during a televised press conference carried by the SPA.

“Despite the availability of the vaccine, there is uncertainty about the virus and some countries still have a high number of COVID cases, the other challenge is the different variants of the virus, hence the decision to restrict the haj”, a said al-Rabiah.

The minister said only approved COVID vaccines from Pfizer, Astrazeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be valid for the haj.

Sources told Reuters in May that a plan was being considered to prohibit pilgrims overseas from performing the Haj, a once-in-life duty for any able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Read more

Before the pandemic imposed global social distancing, some 2.5 million pilgrims visited Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina for the week-long haj, and pilgrimage less important year-round umrah, which brought in the kingdom about $ 12 billion a year. year, according to official data.

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