Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Covid: Only vaccinated pilgrims can perform Haj and Umrah

The government of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is in the process for the introduction of an official authentication steps for all countries which will...

The government of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is in the process for the introduction of an official authentication steps for all countries which will allow only those people, who have taken the Covid-19 vaccine for travelling to the holy cities of Makkah and Madina inorder to perform Hajj and Umrah in 2021.

Image for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Dept of Health Abu Dhabi

During the panel discussions done on the concluding day of Hope Consortium’s World Immunisation and Logistics Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Dr. Hani Jokhdar, Undersecretary of Public Health, Ministry of Health, KSA, said as the Kingdom prepares for this year’s Hajj and Umrah, the authorities are looking forward to all countries to have an official authentication code that identifies people who have received the vaccine to make it easier for pilgrims.

“We’d like to have an official authentication process of the vaccine for all nations. In Saudi Arabia, anyone who has been administered the jab receives a quick response (QR) code that confirms that they’ve received the vaccine,” he said.

“We’re urging all countries to have an official authentication process that is easy and readable at our borders. So, people who have been vaccinated can easily enter the country and perform Hajj and Umrah without facing difficulties,” he added.

Dr. Jokhdar said the nation’s leadership supported the fight against Covid-19 from the outset and a special committee was formed to lead the fight against the pandemic.

“From July 2020 to date, the committee has met over 200 times to discuss various measures to contain the spread of the viral outbreak, including ways to expedite the vaccination process,” he said.

“We believe the global population needs to be vaccinated for the safety of everyone. We might not get rid of the virus anytime soon, but we need a safe zone that all countries should reach,” he added.

Dr. Jokhdar said the KSA authorities have dedicated themselves as one of the countries in the world that are playing a leading role in fighting the viral scourge. They have donated $500 million (m) for conducting research, treatment, and vaccine development and distribution through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is co-leading Covax.

He said all Saudi citizens and residents aged above 16 are being administered the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs for free.

“Vaccination centres have been distributed across the country and all people are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Our target is to have 70 per cent of the population vaccinated before July 13,” he said.

He said health authorities first administered the jab to frontline workers and the vulnerable and from mid-February others are eligible to register themselves and get vaccinated.

“We’re administering an average of 150,000 doses daily. We’re looking at ramping the daily count soon,” he added.

Dr. Jokhdar said the government was keen on implementing all Covid-19 precautionary measures and everyone, including stateless people, who are living in the country illegally, was provided with treatment in a bid to keep the contagion at bay.

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