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Saudi Arabia to allow 'very limited numbers' of people to attend this year's hajj

Saudi Arabia to allow 'very limited numbers' of people to attend this year's hajj
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Saudi Arabia said Monday the government will allow a limited hajj to take place this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a statement a “very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia” will be able to participate in the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. 

“This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manager from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Isla in preserving the lives of human beings,” the ministry said in  statement. 

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The government did not specify in the announcement how many people will be able to participate in this year’s limited hajj, set to begin at the end of July. 

Traditionally, the annual pilgrimage draws around 2 million Muslims from around the world for five days of worship and rituals in Mecca, according to The Associated Press

Saudi Arabia has never canceled hajj in the nearly 90 years since the nation was established, according to the AP. 

There are more than 161,000 reported COVID-19 cases and 1,307 deaths in Saudi Arabia, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.