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Saudi Arabia to limit Hajj this year to citizens, residents

Saudi Arabia to limit Hajj this year to citizens, residents
Pilgrims pray around the Kaaba, Hajj 2019 - (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Riyadh - Mubasher: Saudi Arabia has allowed the Hajj for this year to go forward with a small number of pilgrims, limited to citizens and residents aged 65 or younger, who are already in the kingdom, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a statement late on Monday.

Pilgrims will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival at the holy sites and will be home quarantined for 14 days after performing the Hajj, Saudi health minister, Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah, said in a news conference on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, minister of Hajj Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten revealed that the total number of pilgrims for this year will not exceed 10,000. 

The mandate comes as the COVID-19 had spread to more than 180 countries and claimed almost 5 million deaths and over 7 million infections globally.

Moreover, it builds on what the health ministry noted concerning the continuation of this pandemic with no available treatment or vaccine.

According to the statement, the decision aims to protect the health of visitors and pilgrims, particularly as the infection rate continues to rise in most countries according to reports issued by global health entities.

The Hajj ministry further reiterated that the decision ensures that the holy ritual is performed in a safe manner in a way that guarantees prevention and social distancing protocols are maintained, in compliance with the divine teachings of Islam in preserving human lives.

Nearly two million Muslims from around the world come to the holy city of Makkah to perform the Hajj every year.