By Staff writer
Saudi authorities have significantly curtailed the number of Hajj pilgrims amid the Covid-19 pandemic
The World Health Organisation welcomes Saudi Arabia’s decision to significantly curtail the number of Hajj pilgrims allowed into the kingdom this year amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanum said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Saudi authorities announced that 1,000 pilgrims – all of whom will be Saudi residents – would be allowed to participate in Hajj compared to nearly 2.5 million in 2019.
“As some countries star to reopen their societies and economies, the question about how to hold gatherings of large numbers of people safely have become increasingly important,” Dr. Adhanum said. “This is especially true one of the world’s largest mass gatherings, the annual Hajj pilgrimage.”
Dr. Adhanum’s comments came during a daily Covid-19 press conference in Geneva, in which he said the organisation understood it “was not an easy decision” for Saudi authorities to restrict Hajj pilgrims.
“We also understand it is a major disappointment for many Muslims who are looking forward to making their pilgrimage this year,” he said. “This is another example of the hard choices that all countries must make to put health first.”
To date, there have been more than 167,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia, including 1,387 deaths and over 112,000 recoveries.