Saudi Arabia will permit round 1,000 pilgrims residing within the kingdom to carry out the hajj this yr, a minister stated Tuesday, after it introduced the ritual can be scaled again resulting from coronavirus.
“The variety of pilgrims can be round 1,000, possibly much less, possibly just a little extra,” Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten advised reporters.
“The quantity will not be in tens or a whole lot of hundreds” this yr, he added.
The pilgrimage, scheduled for the top of July, can be restricted to these beneath 65 years of age and with no persistent diseases, Well being Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah stated.
The pilgrims can be examined for coronavirus earlier than arriving within the holy metropolis of Mecca and can be required to quarantine at house after the ritual, Rabiah added.
Saudi Arabia introduced on Monday it might maintain a “very restricted” hajj this yr, because it strikes to curb the most important coronavirus outbreak within the Gulf.
It stated the ritual can be open to individuals of varied nationalities already within the kingdom.
The choice marks the primary time in Saudi Arabia’s trendy historical past that Muslims exterior the dominion have been barred from performing the hajj, which final yr drew 2.5 million pilgrims.
Benten didn’t specify how the pilgrims can be chosen.
However he stated the federal government will work with varied diplomatic missions within the kingdom to pick international pilgrims residing in Saudi Arabia who match the well being standards.
The hajj — a should for able-bodied Muslims no less than as soon as of their lifetime — usually packs tens of millions of pilgrims into congested non secular websites and might be a significant supply of contagion.
The choice comes as Saudi Arabia grapples with a significant spike in infections, which have now risen to greater than 161,000 instances — the very best within the Gulf — with greater than 1,300 deaths.
However the transfer to reduce the five-day occasion is fraught with political and financial peril and comes after a number of Muslim international locations pulled out of the ritual that varieties one of many foremost pillars of Islam.
(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)