Saudi Arabia cancels international Hajj over coronavirus

Saudi Arabia cancels international Hajj over coronavirus

- The Saudi Arabian government has banned Hajj pilgrimage this year for international visitors

- This is in a bid to control coronavirus pandemic and ensure safety of pilgrims

- Only nationals who already reside in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to attend Hajj

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Following the spread of coronavirus infection around the world, the Saudi Arabian government has said that this year's hajj is going ahead but will be restricted to only residents of the country.

This was disclosed in a statement that was shared on the official Twitter page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Monday, June 22.

According to the statement issued by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the decision to cancel international pilgrimage this year is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring the safety of pilgrims.

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The Saudi Arabian government is restricting the hajj rites to various nationalities who already reside in the country due to the uncertainty that surrounds the spread of coronavirus.

Saudi cancels international Hajj over coronavirus
Saudi Arabia cancels international Hajj over coronavirus
Source: Twitter

The ministry went on to note that its top priority is to always enable pilgrims to perform Hajj and Umrah safely and securely. Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

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Earlier, reported that Saudi Arabia could limit numbers at the annual hajj pilgrimage to prevent a further outbreak of coronavirus after cases in the country topped 100,000.

The hajj and the lesser year-round umrah pilgrimage earn the kingdom about $12 billion a year.

Sources quoted in the report said authorities are now considering allowing "only symbolic numbers" this year, with restrictions including a ban on older pilgrims and additional health checks.

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With strict procedures, Saudi authorities think it may be possible to allow in up to 20% of each country's regular quota of pilgrims, another source told Reuters.

In other news, Friday prayers in mosques across Saudi Arabia are back after more than two months following the suspension of congregational prayers over COVID-19.

Nearly 100,000 worshippers attended the Friday prayers in the Prophet Mosque in Medina, according to World Gulf, a state body in charge of the holy site’s affairs, on its official Twitter account.

There were strict health measures during worship. Each worshipper had his own rug and observed designated distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

The ministry of Islamic affairs has put in place a set of precautions for performing group prayers in mosques. The precautions include opening mosques 15 minutes before the Adhan and close them 10 minutes after the end of the prayer with the interval between the Adhan and the start of the prayer shortened to 10 minutes.

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