Coronavirus: Hajj 2020 will be under 'exceptional' circumstances, says Saudi Minister

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The Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj will be taking place under "exceptional" circumstances this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Saudi Arabia's Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh on Tuesday.

The minister made the comments to Al Arabiya television.

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He discussed the special and preventative measures that will govern this year's Hajj, which the Kingdom announced will be going ahead under limited capacity due to COVID-19 on Monday.

Read more: Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia announces Hajj protocols, measures for pilgrims

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh. (Supplied)

Hajj in 2020 under coronavirus

The Hajj pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, will only welcome a “limited number” of people this year, the country’s foreign ministry had said on Monday.

Every year, about 2.5 million Muslims visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, which could make it a possible breeding ground for the disease.

Read more: Umrah and Hajj explained: Your simple guide to Islam’s pilgrimages

To prevent COVID-19 from spreading among pilgrims, the health ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Hajj and Umraj, developed a plan to ensure the safety of all visitors.

Here are the protocols:

1. No more than 10,000 people will be allowed to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at a single time.

2. All pilgrims will be tested before they reach the holy sites.

3. Only Muslims under the age of 65 will be allowed to perform Hajj this year.

4. All pilgrims will be asked to self-quarantine after they complete the Hajj rituals.

5. All workers and volunteers will be tested before the Hajj pilgrimage begins.

6. The health status of all pilgrims will be monitored daily.

7. A hospital has been prepared for any emergency that occurs during the pilgrimage.

8. Social distancing measures will be enforced.

A total of 9,108,670 people worldwide have been infected with the deadly coronavirus, which has also killed 472,703 others, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.

Read more: Safest coronavirus countries: Saudi Arabia, UAE rank in top 20 of COVID-19 analysis

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