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Its not Coward, its Covid that disappoints Hajj lovers: Number of Hajj pilgrims not yet decided by Saudi authorities

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrrah has not concluded its decision regarding the exact number of pilgrims to perform Hajj.

Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, as they observe social distancing to protect themselves against the coronavirus, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 29, 2020 During the first rites of hajj, Muslims circle the Kaaba counter-clockwise seven times while reciting supplications to God, then walk between two hills where Ibrahim's wife, Hagar, is believed to have run as she searched for water for her dying son before God brought forth a well that runs to this day. (AP Photo)

It has been observed that Saudi ministry of Hajj and Umrah is ready to allow a very limited number of pilgrims for performing of Hajj and Umrah this year due to covid situation. This is expected to allow 15000 local people and 45000 people from rest of other Muslims countries.

Moreover, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has not taken a final decision on the number of pilgrims and Hajj-related protocols yet, said Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor-ul-Haq Qadri.

In a video statement, Qadri said the Saudi minister for Hajj and Umrah, in a telephonic communication with him, had confirmed that the Hajj 2021 policy had not been finalised.

The Saudi authorities also informed that media reports about the number of pilgrims were only recommendations from the Saudi Ministry of Health.

The minister noted that the Saudi government has not yet taken a final conclusion on these suggestions.

The Saudi government will take Pakistan into confidence before making a final decision about Hajj.

Pakistan will announce the Hajj policy after the final announcement of the Hajj policy by the Saudi government.

The minister’s recent statement appears on the heels of his earlier statement where he said that the Saudi government has permitted only 60,000 faithful to perform the sacred religious ceremony of Hajj this year under strict health and precautionary measures.

The minister, in a statement, had said that some 15,000 locals and 45,000 people from other countries would be allowed to perform the sacred religious ceremony this year.

The pilgrims have to follow coronavirus-related standard operating procedures.

Qadri hoped that the Saudi government would later inform Pakistan authorities about the number of Pakistani pilgrims that will be allowed to perform Hajj this year.

The Saudi government had issued nine pages of special instructions and conditions.

Hajj 2021 will take place under special circumstances with special norms, rules, and regulations, eligibility, criteria, and age restrictions.

He said people below the age of 18 and over 60 years will not be allowed to go for Hajj, while health certificates will have to be deposited.

Read more: Hajj won’t be suspended this year, Saudi minister tells Pakistani official

Qadri asked the Pakistani intending pilgrims to continue their Hajj preparations.

Authentic coronavirus vaccine certificates and a PCR negative test has been made mandatory. The Pakistan government has requested the Saudi authorities to register the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine for pilgrims.

This year’s Hajj is expected to begin on July 17. Usually, an estimated two million people visit Makkah and Madinah for the annual gathering of Hajj.

However, amid the coronavirus outbreak, only a limited number of people will be allowed to perform Hajj. Last year, only 10,000 people living in Saudi Arabia were allowed to perform Hajj due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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