- He said Pakistan’s Haj Directorate in Jeddah is in regular contact with the Saudi Hajj Secretariat and whether the kingdom will allow pilgrims this year.
- He said they have requested the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination to put the pilgrims in the priority category for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri has said that Hajj this year might be more expensive due to coronavirus.
Talking to The News, the minister said if Saudi Arabia allows pilgrims this year, the hajj will be more expensive. The minister continued that the Saudi government has not informed any country whether it will allow pilgrims this year or not.
However, he said, Pakistan’s Haj Directorate in Jeddah is in regular contact with the Saudi Hajj Secretariat. He added that his ministry is planning to procure vaccines for the healthcare personnel initially from China.
We have officially written to the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination for the provision of the COVID-19 vaccine for pilgrims, Qadri shared. "We have requested the ministry to put the pilgrims in the priority category too. If the Saudi government allows in pilgrims this year, then we will vaccinate them before their departure," he added.
He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Haj every year in November. But, he said, due to coronavirus, the MoU is yet to be signed.
"Last year we signed the agreement and after calculating the expenditures we sought applications. However, the Saudi government halted the Hajj operations for 2020 due to COVID-19”, the religious minister said.
Due to the increase of the coronavirus, Saudi Arabia had allowed a limited number of its residents and citizens to perform Hajj. The pilgrims who were selected after applying through an online portal, were required to be between the ages of 20 and 50, with no terminal illnesses and showing no symptoms of the virus.