Foreign nationals residing outside Saudi Arabia will not be allowed the 2020 hajj, the country’s government has said.
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Hajj is a pilgrimage Muslim faithful are expected to perform at least once in a lifetime.
According to a statement issued by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Monday, the decision to bar millions of Muslim faithful from performing the pilgrimage this year was taken to curb the spread of COVID-19.
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The statement read: “It has been decided that Hajj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) will be held whereby a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia would be able to perform it.
“This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventive measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings.”
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Over 161,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Saudi Arabia, with at least 1,300 deaths.
About 2.5 million pilgrims normally travel to the city of Mecca for the annual pilgrimage.