BEIRUT/ANKARA, June 23 (Bernama) — Saudi Arabia will, this year, limit the annual Hajj pilgrimage to people living inside the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting the doors to pilgrims from abroad, reported Anadolu Agency.
Only a limited number of people from all nationalities living in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to perform the annual Hajj as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread worldwide, and crowded places and international transportation are even riskier in recent days, the Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry said in a statement.
The Hajj, the pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest site Kaaba in the city of Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to perform it at least once in their life if they have the means to do so.
The kingdom’s coronavirus cases surpassed 161,005, and there are more than 1,300 deaths. More than 105,000 have recovered from the disease.
Ali Erbas, head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, said on Twitter that the rights of Turkish citizens who were entitled to go on pilgrimage as a result of casting lots in 2020 will be protected.
He said that the directorate will later provide detailed information.
Since first appearing in China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions.
The US, Brazil, and Russia are currently the countries hardest hit in the world.
The pandemic has killed nearly 470,000 people worldwide, with over 9 million confirmed cases and over 4.47 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.