Saudi Arabia may bar overseas pilgrims from the annual hajj for the second year to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Iran Press/Middle East: The pilgrimage would be restricted to vaccinated nationals and residents, as well as those who have recovered from the virus at least six months before attending, according to Reuters.

Authorities have yet to take a final decision, the news agency said.

Initial plans to allow some vaccinated pilgrims from abroad were suspended, given the confusion over types of vaccines, their efficacy, and the emergence of variants.

It said the government’s media office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Hajj is obligatory for all able-bodied adult Muslims once in their lifetime if they can afford it.

Last year, Saudi Arabia restricted the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca to a “very limited” number of Muslims.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, some 2.5 million pilgrims would visit the holiest Islam sites in Mecca and Medina for the week-long pilgrimage, which, combined with the year-round Umrah pilgrimage, would earn the kingdom $12 billion a year.

Saudi Arabia barred foreigners from the Hajj last year due to the pandemic for the first time in the kingdom's modern history, allowing only a limited number of Saudi citizens and residents.

Covid-19 infections are still rising in 35 countries globally. There have been at least 153,508,000 reported infections and 3,351,000 reported deaths caused by the new coronavirus so far.

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