Saudi tells Muslims to wait on Hajj plans amid coronavirus crisis
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has asked Muslims to wait for greater clarification on the coronavirus pandemic before preparing any pilgrimage trips, the Hajj and Umrah minister told a local media source.
“We’ve asked the world not to rush with regards to Hajj groups until the path of the epidemic becomes clear, keeping in mind the safety of pilgrims and public health as a priority,” Dr. Muhammad Salih bin Taher Banten said.
“We have coordinated with the Ministry of Health an inspection tour of hotels that were used for health isolation to ensure that all services and care are provided to pilgrims,” he added.
The largest annual Muslim gathering is expected to begin in late July, but the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown of Saudi Arabia to prevent the virus from spreading has raised concerns as to whether it will go ahead.
The Kingdom has already halted the pilgrimage to Umrah until further notice, stopped all international passenger flights indefinitely and barred entry and exit to several cities last week, including Makkah and Madinah.
Of the 1,563 cases of coronavirus, 10 deaths have been confirmed in Saudi Arabia, which has infected some 800,000 people worldwide and killed more than 40,000.