Covid-19: Saudi Arabia bars Nigeria, others from 2021 Hajj

Saudi Arabia to allow 1,000 pilgrims to perform Hajj
Saudi Arabia to allow 1,000 pilgrims to perform Hajj

Travellers from Nigeria and other countries have been barred by Saudi Arabia from performing the 2021 Hajj over the COVID-19 pandemic.

It said only 60,000 of its vaccinated residents would be allowed to perform the annual hajj. It, however, would be limited to those below 65 years of age, state media reported.

It was announced on Saturday.

The hajj ministry said this year's pilgrimage would be "open for nationals and residents of the kingdom, limited to 60,000 pilgrims", according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

It will be the second year in a row that the kingdom hosts a downscaled hajj amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 460,000 coronavirus infections, including 7,536 deaths.

The health ministry says it has administered more than 15 million coronavirus vaccine doses, in a country with a population of over 34 million.

Hosting the hajj is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, for whom the custodianship of Islam's holiest sites is their most powerful source of political legitimacy.

But a series of deadly disasters over the years, including a 2015 stampede that killed up to 2,300 worshippers, has prompted criticism of the kingdom's management of the pilgrimage.

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