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Saudi restricts Makkah visits during Haj
Manama, June 24, 2013
Saudi Arabia has reduced the number of applications to visit Makkah during the Haj season amid major expansion work taking place at Makkah and fears of the spread of the deadly coronavirus, said a report.
The unprecedented move aims to prevent stampedes and ensure the safety of people, Bahraini Haj delegation head Shaikh Abdulnasser Abdulrahman was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"The move follows a decision of the Haj Council in Saudi Arabia to reduce the number of pilgrims temporarily due to the ongoing massive expansions," he said.
"The Bahrain quota for Haj will be reduced from 4,675 to 3,700.
"The number of expatriates planning to perform the annual pilgrimage will also decrease from 1300 to 1000."
Shaikh Abdulrahman revealed that the number of administrative and support staff travelling with each Bahraini caravan will also be reduced by 50 per cent.
Shaikh Abdulrahman urged Bahrainis, who earlier performed Haj, to give others the chance to travel this year.
"This is because typically, between 30 per cent to 40 per cent of Bahraini pilgrims perform the Haj every year," he added.
He also said Bahraini authorities have been taking precautionary measures and coordinating with their counterparts in Saudi to protect pilgrims.
A special taskforce has already been formed by the Health Ministry to screen thousands of pilgrims travelling to and from Saudi Arabia for the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Bahraini travellers will be provided with three types of vaccinations before crossing the border, where they will be closely monitored. They will also undergo thorough medical tests after returning.
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-like virus has already killed 39 people worldwide, including 33 people in Saudi Arabia, and infected 70 globally.
"However, Bahraini authorities have not received any instructions from their Saudi counterparts to undertake any exceptional measures in this regard," said Shaikh Abdulrahman. – TradeArabia News Service