Ministry seeks COVID-19 vaccines for Hajj pilgrims

Ministry seeks COVID-19 vaccines for Hajj pilgrims

Minister of Religious Affairs, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, at a work meeting with Commission VIII of the House of Representatives in Jakarta on Tuesday (January 19, 2021). (ANTARA/HO-House of Representatives Commission VIII)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Minister of Religious Affairs, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, has proposed that Indonesians planning a Hajj pilgrimage be given the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure their immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus while traveling.

While attending a work meeting with Commission VIII of the House of Representatives in Jakarta on Tuesday, Qoumas said that the Ministry of Religious Affairs has written to the Ministry of Health seeking vaccines for pilgrims and officials overseeing Hajj and Umrah procedures.

"Regarding the number of vaccines, the Ministry of Health can allocate vaccines for 257,540 people,” Minister Qoumas revealed.

He further explained that there are a number of considerations for placing the congregation into the priority category for COVID-19 vaccination. First, there are concerns that the Saudi Arabian authorities may not allow entry to pilgrims in 2021 if they have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Second, he said, if the congregation is not vaccinated, it will be more time-consuming for pilgrims to undertake Hajj as they will have to undergo a quarantine in Saudi and that will take time, space, and money. Third, if they are not vaccinated, the pilgrims will have to carry out a PCR swab test during quarantine, and before and upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, he noted.

"And fourth, if they are not vaccinated, it will be necessary to practice physical distancing at the embarkation, during the flight and while in Saudi Arabia and when the pilgrims arrive in the country," he added.

He said he is waiting for a response from the Minister of Health regarding the request for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to pilgrims.

The Minister of Religious Affairs said that if the Hajj quota is normal then, around 257,540 people will have to be vaccinated. This figure can be divided into 221 thousand regular and special Hajj pilgrims, 4,200 group and non-flight officers, 3,400 Hajj pilgrims across the province, and 18 thousand Hajj advisors at six thousand Religious Affairs Offices in sub-districts across Indonesia, Minister Qoumas informed.

"It also includes 10,940 committee and ritual guides for 547 districts/cities throughout Indonesia," he added. (INE)

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