Cairo: Around 558,000 residents in Saudi Arabia have applied for performing this year’s Haj after 10-day registration ended on Wednesday night, a Saudi official has disclosed.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia said that due to the continuation of COVID-19 and its variants, performing this year’s Haj will be confined to 60,000 pilgrims from Saudis and foreign residents in the kingdom.
Eligible pilgrims must be vaccinated with at least one dose against COVID-19, free of chronic diseases and aged between 18 to 65 years.
“Priority for undertaking the Haj rituals will be given to those who did not perform this duty before and to the applicants aged 50 and above,” Saudi Deputy Minister of Haj and Umrah Abdulfattah Al Mashat said.
Selection of pilgrims
Selection of the pilgrims does not depend on early registration, but on meeting conditions set for attending the Haj that will be organised amid stringent health conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last year’s Haj was performed by a limited number of Saudis and foreign Muslims residing in Saudi Arabia to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The kingdom initiated mass vaccinations against the highly contagious disease in December.
Around 16.8 million doses of vaccines have since been administered in Saudi Arabia, with 70 per cent of its adult population receiving at least one dose, according to the Health Ministry.
Saudi authorities are due today to launch the second dose of vaccination starting with people aged 50 and above who have already received the first dose, the ministry added.
Efforts will, meanwhile, continue to give the jabs to people who have not yet received the first dose.
The Saudi National Committee for Contagious Diseases has approved possible administration of two doses of two different vaccines, citing international studies that proved safety and effectiveness of the blend.