03/02/2021, 16.01
SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi Minister: Covid vaccine is a 'prerequisite' for Hajj

To participate in the major pilgrimage, it will be "mandatory" to demonstrate immunization. Doubts about the presence of faithful from abroad. Riyadh started the vaccination campaign on December 17. Since the beginning of the pandemic, almost 380 thousand infections and 6,500 deaths.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "No jab, no Hajj". A slogan to emphasize that without the Covid-19 vaccine it will not be possible to participate in the Hajj, the traditional major pilgrimage to Mecca.

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah announced the move today, saying immunization is considered "the main and most important precondition" to take part in the event that, before the pandemic, attracted up to 2.5 people million of people to the country.

Last year the major pilgrimage fell at the end of July, in full coronavirus emergency. After a long debate, it was held in very limited form and only a small part (no more than 10 thousand people, 70% foreigners and the remaining Saudis) were able to participate. A "symbolic" number as underlined by the same authorities, to avoid its complete cancellation for health reasons.

A fierce controversy had recently flared up in the Muslim world over the legality of vaccines according to the precepts of Islam. At the time of the pandemic, even the traditionally most conservative place linked to orthodoxy therefore places immunization against Covid-19 as a prerequisite for participating in one of the five pillars of faith - to be accomplished once in a lifetime.

In a note, Minister Al-Rabiah explained that the authorities must also prepare specialized personnel in the medical and health sector in Mecca and Medina, destinations of the Hajj, before the major pilgrimage begins. To this "is added the prerequisite of vaccination to be able to take part", which each pilgrim must be able to demonstrate that he has done it in a "compulsory" way.

The ministry has not specified whether this year's Hajj, which should begin on the evening of July 17, will tend to exclude Muslims from abroad, to prevent the spread of Covid in its variants. The Wahhabi kingdom began its vaccination program on December 17, with approval for the use of products made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. So far the pandemic in Saudi Arabia has recorded almost 380 thousand infections and 6,500 deaths.

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