Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Saudi Arabia's health ministry has announced that pilgrims who want to perform Hajj this year must be vaccinated
Local media reports quoted Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah as saying that participantion in the Hajj season be linked to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, considering it the main condition for participation.
"The compulsion of the taking of the Corona vaccine for those wishing to participate, as it is one of the conditions for participation in the next Hajj season," Rabiah is quoted as saying.
The minister also directed the formation of corona vaccination committee for the participants in the Hajj and Umrah season.
Last year Saudi Arabia's Hajj Ministry has allowed only few thousands to perform the pilgrimage. Two-thirds of those pilgrims were from among foreign residents in Saudi Arabia and one-third will be Saudi citizens.
The Hajj normally draws around 2.5 million people for five intense days of worship in one of the world's largest gatherings of people from around the world.
Last years for the first time in Saudi history, no pilgrims from abroad were permitted to take part in the Hajj due to concerns about the coronavirus and overcrowding. It's a stark departure from previous years, when some 2 million pilgrims from more than 160 countries flocked to Makkah for the spiritual rituals, mostly from across Asia and Africa.
Although the Hajj often draws all age groups, pilgrims last year were required to be between the ages of 20 and 50, and in good health.
An official said that worshippers will be asked to provide authorised COVID-19 vaccination certificate in their Umrah request.
Saudi Press Agency has quoted the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah as saying that the new platform has been linked to the services provided on the "Visit Saudi Arabia" to facilitate the pilgrims heading to two holy cities.
The kingdom's health ministry said it has administered more than five million coronavirus vaccine doses, in a country with a population of over 34 million.
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