WHO welcomes Saudi Arabia’s decision to limit Hajj 2020

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO headquaters on March 6, 2020 in Geneva. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

RIYADH (RAHNUMA): The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to greatly limit the number of Hajj pilgrims this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kingdom said just 1,000 people, who are already living in Saudi Arabia, would be able to perform the pilgrimage. Last year almost 2.5 million worshippers from around the world took part.

“As some countries start to reopen their societies and economies, the question about how to hold gatherings of large numbers of people safely have become increasingly important,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanum, said. “This is especially true of one of the world’s largest mass gatherings, the annual Hajj pilgrimage.”

Adhanum said the decision comes on the basis of risk assessment and an analysis of the various scenarios, in accordance with the organization’s guidelines to protect the safety of pilgrims and reduce the risk of infection.

Speaking n Geneva during the daily coronavirus press conference, he said the organization supported Saudi Arabia’s decision, adding that all that all countries must make difficult decisions to put public health at the forefront.

“We understand that it was not an easy decision to make and we also understand it is a major disappointment for many Muslims who are looking forward to making their pilgrimage this year,” he said. “This is another example of the hard choices that all countries must make to put health first.”

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