COVID-19 – Saudi Arabia still reviews Sinovac, Sinopharm for umrah pilgrims

The Saudi government prioritizes the safety and health of pilgrims in organizing the umrah pilgrimage during the pandemic. Safety and health are the main matters, not just economic and business interests. (Reasahalharmain/Instagram)

Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Consul for Hajj at the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah Endang Jumali has stated that the Saudi government is currently conducting a study related to the use of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

“The Saudi Ministry of Health is still conducting a study. In the near future, the results will be officially released,” said Endang in a written statement received here on Thursday (Aug. 12).

According to Endang, the information was obtained in a meeting between representatives of the Indonesian Consulate General and Deputy for Umrah Affairs of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Abdulaziz Wazzan in Jeddah on Wednesday (Aug. 11).

The two COVID-19 vaccines from China have not yet been recommended by Saudi Arabia to be used by pilgrims for entering the Holy Land to perform umrah (the minor hajj).

Although Sinovac and Sinopharm have been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), Saudi Arabia only acknowledges AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah continues to coordinate with the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia to ascertain whether prospective umrah pilgrims from other countries, including Indonesia, who have received two doses of these two vaccines still need to be given one more dose (booster) of one of the four vaccines used by Saudi Arabia,” said Endang.

The Deputy for Umrah emphasized that the Saudi government prioritizes the safety and health of pilgrims in organizing the umrah pilgrimage during the pandemic. Safety and health are the main matters, not just economic and business interests.

“Umrah pilgrimage is performed with strict health protocols. For instance, transportation mode within the city must only accommodate 50 percent of the total normal capacity, and hotel accommodation is limited for two people per room,” Endang explained.

Saudi Arabia is also still suspending direct travel for a number of countries where the spreads of the COVID-19 virus is considered high, including India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon.

However, Saudi Arabia has offered umrah for pilgrims from the suspended countries, on the condition that they must undergo a 14-day quarantine in a third country before arriving in the Holy Land.

Reporting by Indonesia Window

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