COVID-19: Saudi govt bars Pakistan from signing Hajj agreements
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – The Saudi government has barred Pakistan authorities from signing the Hajj agreements due to coronavirus. In a letter received by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Thursday, it has been asked not to sign the agreements. “The Saudi government will inform the authorities after the situation improves,” he added. According to sources, Pakistan had to sign agreements regarding arrangements for accommodation, transport and food for Pakistani pilgrims. The agreements have been stopped after receiving the letter from the Saudi government. The Ministry for Religious Affairs has already stopped Hajj training programs. This year, 179,210 Pakistanis are to perform Hajj. After the second death due to coronavirus on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia tightened a nationwide curfew, barring travel in and out of Riyadh, the capital, and the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, as well as movement between all provinces. The orders, approved by King Salman and published by state media, also brought forward the start of a curfew in the three cities to 3 p.m. from 7 p.m., starting Thursday. Saudi Arabia introduced the curfew on Monday, initially for 21 days, after registering a jump in infections. Its second fatality was a 46-year-old foreign resident of Makkah, among 133 new cases that took Saudi Arabia’s total to 900. Across the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, the tally rose to 2,472 with seven deaths, as the United Arab Emirates registered 85 new infections, Oman 15 and Kuwait four. Saudi Arabia has halted international flights as well as suspending visas for the year-round Umrah pilgrimage and closing mosques, schools, malls and restaurants. The restrictions have altered the rhythm of daily life in the country of some 30 million, where late-night gatherings at coffee shops or private homes are common.