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NAHCON: Countries with high COVID-19 cases may be banned from hajj

NAHCON: Countries with high COVID-19 cases may be banned from hajj
June 04
17:07 2020

Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, chairman and chief executive officer of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), says Saudi Arabia may ban countries with high prevalence of COVID-19 cases from participating in hajj.

He made this known at a conference hosted by the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria, which held via Zoom, and had as its theme, “The Future of Hajj and Umrah Operations after the Pandemic”.

In a statement issued after the conference on Wednesday by Mousa Ubandawaki, assistant director of information and publication, NAHCON, the chairman explained that the conduct of hajj may come with certain restrictions as the Saudi government may introduce some guidelines to curb the spread of the virus.

According to him, Saudi Arabia may also adopt other measures like pegging the allocation of pilgrims allowed for each country, banning pilgrims from countries with prevalent COVID-19 cases, and exemption of certain categories of persons like the elderly and those with underlying health challenges, as well as those who test positive for COVID-19.

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The chairman, who was the lead discussant at the conference, expressed optimism that the 2020 hajj could still hold in spite of the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Only the Saudi authorities can take the final decision. We can only take our own decision in the light of Saudi one,” he said.

“I still would believe that this may come with certain conditions. It may not be the usual way of doing Hajj. People might have to go through self-isolation or outright quarantine.

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“Besides, the issue of social distancing may be adopted during religious rites in accommodation and transportation.”

In February 2020, Saudi Arabia suspended the issuance of visa to pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah (lesser hajj) over fears of the coronavirus.

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