Wednesday 14 April 2021
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PoliticsWorldSaudi Arabia makes Covid vaccine mandatory for Haj pilgrims

Saudi Arabia makes Covid vaccine mandatory for Haj pilgrims

Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry has issued an order ruling that only those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to attend the Haj this year

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Saudi Arabia has now made the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for pilgrims around the world visiting the country for the Islamic pilgrimage Haj this year. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has issued an order ruling that only those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to attend the Haj this year.

The Saudi Arabia ministry said, “The Covid-19 vaccine is mandatory for those willing to come to the haj and will be one of the main conditions (for receiving a permit to come).”

The country’s health minister signed the circular. Saudi Arabia is the guardian of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina. It organises the Haj, which has been marred in the past by stampedes, fires and riots that claimed many lives.

In 2020, the kingdom dramatically reduced the number of pilgrims to around 1,000 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Previously, Saudi Arabia had debarred Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times.

Haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, is a major source of income for the Saudi government.

The congregation of millions of pilgrims from around the world can turn a hotbed of coronavirus transmission. In the past, worshippers have returned home with respiratory and other diseases.

In the same circular, Saudi Minister of Health Dr Tawfiq al-Rabiah said that the government must be prepared to “secure the manpower required to operate the health facilities in Mecca and Medina”.

The Saudi administration will install these facilities at entry points for pilgrims, he said. It will further constitute a vaccination committee for pilgrims within Saudi Arabia.

It may be noted that the Government of India had recently announced that the coronavirus vaccine would be administered to those going for Haj pilgrimage from India. The last date for submission of application forms for Haj 2021 is 10 January, Union Minister MA Naqvi had said. 

Naqvi made this announcement after chairing a meeting of the Haj Committee of India officials and Haj Group organisers at Haj House in south Mumbai. The last date for submission of application forms for Haj 2021 is 10 January, the Minister said.

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