Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that the mechanism that will be in place for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage hinges on the developments related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the periodic government press briefing, acting Media Minister Dr. Majid al-Qasabi remarked that the world was facing major challenges because of the pandemic given that the virus was constantly mutating.
He also noted a shortage in vaccinations in several countries.
These factors have forced a delay in announcing the plan of this year’s holy pilgrimage, he explained.
The ministers of health and Hajj and Umrah will clarify the pilgrimage mechanism in coming days given the ongoing challenges, he added.
Al-Qasabi stressed that Saudi Arabia was among the world’s leading countries in providing the best vaccines to its people. It has secured deliveries for more than twice its population in order to provide the necessary protection to its citizens and residents.
So far, 40 percent of the population has been vaccinated, or around 15 million shots have been given.
In its effort to coexist with the pandemic, the Kingdom has taken all the precautions to secure a safe return to normal and resume travel within the necessary health protocols that have taken it to the top global position in government response to the coronavirus, he stressed.
Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat about the inoculation of teaching staff at schools and universities, he replied that only 70 percent of teachers have been vaccinated.
Al-Qasabi therefore, urged teachers to sign up to receive the vaccine, adding, however, that no one will be forced to take the shot.
The Kingdom has announced that it will resume in-person teaching for the next academic year.
New infections have been steadily declining in Saudi Arabia. It confirmed 984 new cases on Sunday, 1,185 recoveries and 16 fatalities.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Abdelali hailed the people’s awareness and compliance with the health precautions, which has helped achieve the drop in cases.
He urged them to continue to comply with the measures and called on people who have not yet received the vaccine to sign up for it.