Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Saudi Arabia has asked Muslims to wait for more clarity on the COVID-19 pandemic before planning any travel for pilgrimage, the Minister for Hajj and Umrah told Al-Ekhbariya TV on Tuesday (March 31).
“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,” Muhammad Salih bin Taher Banten said, as reported by Arab News.
“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 gathering of Muslims is scheduled to begin in late July, but the COVID-19 outbreak and Saudi Arabia’s lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus has raised questions about whether it can go ahead.
The Kingdom has already suspended Umrah pilgrimage until further notice, halted all international passenger flights indefinitely and last week blocked entry and exit to several cities, including Makkah and Madinah.
There have been 10 deaths reported among 1,563 cases of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia, which has infected some 800,000 people and killed more than 40,000 around the world.
Reporting by Indonesia Window