Saudi Arabia to organise this year's Hajj under anti-virus curbs


Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it would organise this year's Hajj pilgrimage under strict health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 during the annual Islamic rituals.

Every year, millions of Muslims usually perform the Hajj pilgrimage, a key Islamic pillar. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the kingdom last year only allowed a limited number of Saudis and foreign Muslims already residing in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj announced the monarchy's intention to hold the pilgrimage under strict health, security and organisational measures to protect pilgrims and ensure rituals took place in a "safe environment", the country's state news agency SPA reported.

The exact rules for this year's Hajj will be announced later, the ministry said. "Health agencies in the kingdom continue to evaluate and take all necessary measures," it said.

In December, Saudi Arabia started mass vaccinations against COVID-19. More than 10 million doses have since been administered in the oil-wealthy country.

One of the five pillars of Islam, the Hajj is a mandatory duty for all Muslims to complete once in a lifetime, if they have the financial and physical means to do so.

During the Hajj, pilgrims perform the same rituals in a demonstration of religious unity, equality and pursuit of spiritual renewal.    (dpa)

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