The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a statement that Saudi Arabia will hold Hajj pilgrimage with very limited number of intending pilgrims in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The kingdom has reported over 160,000 and more than 1,300 deaths from the novel coronavirus.
“As COVID-19 cases continue to grow globally while the risks of Coronavirus spread in crowded spaces and to countries still exist, Hajj 1441H is decided to take place this year with a limited number of pilgrims from all nationalities residing in Saudi Arabia only, who are willing to perform Hajj,” the statement said.
The ministry said that the decision to hold the restricted pilgrimage was taken to ensure that the Hajj was safely performed “while committing to all preventive measures to protect Muslims and adhere strictly to the teachings of Islam in preserving our health and safety”.
“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is honoured to serve millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims annually,” it said.
“It confirms that this decision is in consideration of its constant care of maintaining the safety of pilgrims on its land until departing back to their home countries. We ask Allah the Almighty to protect all countries from this pandemic and keep all humans protected and safe,” it added.
Earlier, it was reported that the country was considering to cancel Hajj due to increasing infections. “The issue has been carefully studied and different scenarios are being considered. An official decision will be made within one week,” a senior official from Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah ministry told the Financial Times.