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Saudi says covid vaccine needed for Hajj pilgrims

Few worshippers performing al-Fajr prayer at the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque complex in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on June 23, 2020 [STR/AFP via Getty Images]
Few worshippers performing al-Fajr prayer at the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque complex in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on June 23, 2020 [STR/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia has announced that Muslims wanting to visit Makkah for the annual Hajj pilgrimage will need to provide proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19, Saudi Okaz newspaper reports.

"Vaccination would be the main condition for participation," Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah is reported to have said.

His ministry did not specify whether this year's Hajj season, which is due to begin on 17 July, will be affected by the new regulation.

In 2020, the Hajj was limited to just 1,000 pilgrims who lived in Saudi Arabia, as part of the kingdom's efforts to combat coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia started its vaccination programme on 17 December, with the Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs approved for use.

So far, Saudi officials say there have been 377,700 cases of coronavirus and the kingdom has reported some 6,500 coronavirus related fatalities.

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