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Hajj pilgrims likely to be limited to 1,000 this year

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian authorities have announced that the number of Hajj pilgrims could be limited to less or more than 1,000 for protecting the public health in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saudi Health Minister Dr Tawfiq Al-Rabiah held a press conference on Tuesday to elaborate the plan for a very limited number of Hajj pilgrims this year.

He said Saudi Arabia is capable of ensuring pilgrims’ safety and limiting the number of pilgrims this year is important. “The health ministry has accumulated experience in the service of pilgrims, and thus has enough human and technical capacities to serve pilgrims and preserve their health,” he said.

Read: Saudi Arabia announces decision on Hajj 2020

Dr Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said that compulsory isolation before and after the pilgrimage will also be enforced. An integrated hospital at holy sites will be provided, along with a health center in Arafat in case of emergencies during Hajj, he added.

Medical cadres will also accompany pilgrims throughout their journey.

Media coverage of this year’s Hajj will be in line with adopted health measures, reported Arab News.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government announced to refund the money deposited by the successful applicants for Government Hajj Scheme-2020 after the Saudi Arabian government limit the number of pilgrims owing to coronavirus pandemic.

Read: Govt decides to refund money to Hajj applicants

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri announced on Tuesday that the Hajj applicants will be informed via SMS about the procedure to receive the amount. He maintained that they were preparing a strategy to return the money to the applicants.

Lauding the Saudi government’s decision, the minister said that they took the decision according to shariah. On the occasion, he thanked the Saudi minister for taking him into confidence over the issue ahead of the announcement.

The federal government backed the decision made by Saudi authorities, he said and added that Riyadh always ensured best facilities for the pilgrims.

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