The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on Monday, announced its decision to restrict the Islamic pilgrimage 'Hajj' to those residing within the country, over the "lack of available vaccinations" as well as "a cure for those infected by COVID-19 around the world".
According to Saudi's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the decision is intended to ensure that Hajj is performed in a safe manner, in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
As such, the ministry chooses to prioritize preserving human lives, while observing preventative measures to protect from the risks associated with the pandemic.
A must for able-bodied and financially capable followers at least once in their lifetime, Hajj represents a major source of community transmission for various flu, as millions of pilgrims flock into congested religious sites each year.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia reported roughly 2.5 million pilgrims taking part in the annual rites.
As a result of the nominal Hajj, it is expected that a significant loss in revenue will be recorded by the petro-state already plagued by a global plunge in oil prices.
At present, Saudi Arabia records a total of 161,005 confirmed cases, out of which 54,523 are active cases of COVID-19. The country records 105,175 recoveries and 1,307 fatalities so far.
Saudi Arabia has reported the largest amount of infections within the Middle East.