Saudi Arabia Urges Intending 2020 Pilgrims to Delay Bookings Over COVID-19Asia, Latest News, World News Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Saudi Arabia authority has requested Muslims intending to be part of this year’s Hajj rites to delay booking.
The request follows uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, still raging in various countries across the world.
Hajj Minister, Mohammed Banten said Tuesday that the Saudi Arabia kingdom was concerned about the safety of pilgrims, therefore, urged the prospective pilgrims to “wait before concluding contracts”.
Banten confirmed to State TV: “Saudi Arabia is fully ready to serve pilgrims and Umra seekers in all circumstances; but under the current circumstances, as we are talking about the global pandemic, from which we have asked God to save us, the kingdom is keen to protect the health of Muslims and citizens.
“So we have asked our brother Muslims in all countries to wait before concluding contracts (with tour operators) until the situation is clear.”
The Minister added that the Hajj and Health Ministries have been inspecting hotels currently being used to accommodate people who had been undertaking Umra before the suspension.
Banten confirmed that for the time being, people who had purchased Umra visas but could not be used would be refunded.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 since last year, the Saudi authority has suspended the lesser pilgrimage, (Umra) as a precautionary and preventive measure.
In addition, the Kingdom authorities had since prevented people from entering Mecca and Medina, as well as the capital Riyadh.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, not less than 1,563 people cases have been confirmed and 10 lives lost in the holy land.
No less than two million people are expected to travel to Mecca and Medina this July and August for the annual spiritual gathering.
Muslims with financial capacity and who are physically fit are mandated to undertake Hajj at least once in a lifetime.
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