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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Saudi vaccine rule for pilgrims not an issue, says govt


PETALING JAYA: Saudi Arabia’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for pilgrims who want to perform the haj will not pose a problem for Malaysians, said deputy minister for religious affairs Ahmad Marzuk Shaary.

Marzuk said this is because pilgrims from Malaysia have always been required to be vaccinated for other diseases prior to the pilgrimage.

He told FMT pilgrims need to take the Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine at least two weeks before leaving for Mecca, while those above the age of 50 and have other chronic illnesses are encouraged to receive the flu vaccine a month before the pilgrimage.

“If the Covid-19 vaccine is set as a requirement by the Saudi Arabian government, we have to adhere to it.

“So, everyone has to accept and those selected to perform the haj have to accept it.”

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia’s health ministry ruled that only pilgrims who have received the Covid-19 vaccine will be allowed to perform the haj this year.

The haj draws millions of pilgrims from around the world, and large crowds are conducive for the virus to spread. Last year, the number of pilgrims allowed was greatly reduced to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

Meanwhile, an association representing religious travel companies, called Persatuan Agensi Pelancongan Umrah dan Haji Malaysia, said all pilgrims will be screened by the health ministry at least three days before leaving to perform their umrah or haj. - FMT

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