COVID-19: Saudi Arabia to hold a ‘very limited’ Hajj this year

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Saudi Arabia has announced it will hold a very limited Hajj this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with people already living in the kingdom allowed to take part in the pilgrimage that begins in late July.

The decision comes in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases around the world, the lack of a vaccine and difficulty maintaining a safe physical distance among large numbers of pilgrims coming from overseas.

More than two million people perform the annual pilgrimage in the kingdom, including many travelling from abroad.

The Hajj represents a major potential source of contagion as it packs millions of pilgrims into congested religious sites.

A watered-down Hajj would represent a major loss of revenue for the kingdom, which is already reeling from the twin shocks of the virus-induced slowdown and a plunge in oil prices.

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