Indonesia tells hajj pilgrims to stay home amid coronavirus uncertainty
More than 200,000 Indonesians hoping to attend the hajj in Saudi Arabia this year have had their plans cancelled by the government amid a lack of certainty because of the coronavirus outbreak, a minister said on Tuesday.
"The Saudi authorities have not yet given access to pilgrims from any country," Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said. "Because of that, we won't have enough time to prepare, especially in terms of the protection of the pilgrims," he told an online news conference.
Indonesia has a hajj quota of 221,000 pilgrims for this year, according to the government. The hajj is due in late July this year, but the kingdom has not yet announced whether it will be called off.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia began the gradual re-opening of the Prophet Muhammad's mosque in the city of Medina, one of Islam's two holiest sites, on Sunday, two months after it was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since late February, Saudi Arabia has suspended the Muslim umrah pilgrimage to Mecca because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Indonesia recorded 609 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the national tally to 27,549, the country's COVID-19 task force spokesperson Achmad Yurianto said.
The death toll rose to 1,663, after 22 additional deaths were reported overnight. (dpa)