JEDDAH: People who have received their Hajj permits for this year’s pilgrimage should visit their nearest vaccine center to receive their second jab within 48 hours of the permit being issued, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has said.
Just 60,000 people will be allowed to perform Hajj as registration for it was only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom. The ministry’s portal received more than 550,000 applications before registration closed last Wednesday.
Pilgrims should either be fully vaccinated, have had one dose at least 14 days before Hajj, or be vaccinated after recovering from a coronavirus infection. The ministry urged people with permits to get vaccinated, assuring them that no appointment was needed.
Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority also approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-18.
More than 17.2 million vaccine doses have been administered in Saudi Arabia so far, with a Ministry of Health spokesman saying that nobody had died from COVID-19 after completing the vaccination course.
Speaking at a press conference, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly also said the number of daily cases were showing some stability and one possibility could be due to the recent “record number” of people taking PCR tests.
“The average number in the past few weeks have recorded between 1,000-1,200 cases and differ from one region to the next, but we urge everyone to adhere to precautionary measures, register for the vaccine until we reach a level of safety soon,” he added, explaining the difference between individual immunity and herd immunity.
“To achieve high herd immunity in society, we must follow health precautions and opt for the vaccine. On an individual level, this will decrease chances of infection and critical cases, and it highly decreases the probability of death, even through one jab.”
He said there were no problems with people getting the flu shot if they had also been vaccinated against COVID-19, and answered questions about why case numbers were increasing even though a good percentage of the population had been vaccinated. He said while the second dose boosted protection, it did not prevent an infection.
There were 1,218 new cases of COVID-19 recorded on Sunday, bringing the overall total to 483,221. There are 11,190 active cases, with 1,440 of them critical. There have been a further 1,252 recoveries, taking this total to 464,256. There were 15 more deaths, raising the death toll to 7,775.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub, who was speaking at the same press conference, reiterated the tough penalties and consequences for people violating COVID-19 quarantine measures. Violators will either pay a fine of SR200,000 ($53,333), be jailed for no longer than two years or both. The penalty will be doubled if the incident reoccurs.
If the violator is a resident, he or she will leave the Kingdom and will be prevented from entry after the penalty imposed on them.
As of last week, the ministry reported 17,818 breaches of COVID-19 health precautions. “Riyadh is the region with the highest violations, the Eastern Province comes in at second, and third would be the Makkah region,” he said.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance reopened 12 mosques after their temporary closure and sterilization. It has sterilized 1,684 mosques in a 141-day period.
On Sunday, it said the mosques that were sterilized and reopened were in the regions of Riyadh, Asir, and Jizan.
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