Saudi Arabian government has advised Muslims around the world to defer Hajj preparations due to the looming uncertainty amid coronavirus outbreak. The country’s Hajj minister, Mohammad Benten, said this on state-run television on Tuesday.
During an interview with Al Ekhbariya, the minister said that Saudi Arabia is ready to serve pilgrims, but the situation all around is confusing due to the pandemic.
Under the current circumstances, as we are talking about the global pandemic […] the kingdom is keen to protect the health of Muslims and citizens and so we have asked our brother Muslims in all countries to wait before doing Haj contracts until the situation is clear.
Though Benten was optimistic about organizing hajj this year, he refrained from confirming whether they will host international pilgrims. This is mainly because the deadly disease is also spreading in the country.
As of Tuesday, KSA authorities have confirmed 1564 COVID-19 infections and 10 deaths from illness. The government is taking strict measures to curb the spread of the virus, banning international Umrah pilgrims, congregational prayers across the country, including Masjid al-Nabvi and Masjid al-Haram. The tawaf at the Mataaf was also discontinued earlier this month and was only resumed for a small number of people on Monday.
Religious tourism is a crucial revenue source for the Kingdom as last year, the country welcomed over 2.5 million pilgrims during the Hajj season.