Govt to apply health protocols more stringently for umrah pilgrims

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government will tighten the implementation of health protocols for minor hajj (umrah) pilgrims as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 transmission, acting Director General of Hajj and Minor Hajj, Religious Affairs Ministry, Oman Fathurahman stated.

"We will monitor and ensure that the PPIU (umrah tour operators) adhere to the rules stipulated in the Religious Minister Regulation No. 719 of 2020 on guidance for umrah tour operators during the COVID-19 pandemic. This must be understood as part of the government's protection for pilgrims," Fathurahman noted in a statement here on Friday.

Indonesian Muslims can perform umrah after November 20, as the Saudi Arabian authority had halted the pilgrimage for evaluation following the first reopening of umrah on November 1, 2020.

"Since November 8, there was no departure of (umrah pilgrims). Yesterday, we received information that visa for umrah can be processed. It is expected that Indonesian Muslims can perform umrah in the next few days," he remarked.

The Religious Affairs Ministry will work closely with the Health Ministry, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), and Saudi's authority to implement stringent health protocols for umrah pilgrims, including validation of swab test results and quarantine process prior to their departure.

Saudi Arabia has reopened umrah pilgrimage on November 1. Indonesia has sent 359 pilgrims, segregated into three batches, which departed separately on November 1, 3, and 8.

Upon their arrival, 13 pilgrims had tested positive for COVID-19 following a swab test at a hotel in Mecca, eight of whom were pilgrims from the first batch, while five others were from the second batch.

Consequently, all pilgrims in the first and second batches had to be quarantined longer, and they missed out on the opportunity to visit Madinah. Some 46 other pilgrims grouped in the third batch had tested negative for COVID-19, so they could continue their trip to Nabawi Mosque in Madinah.

"We want to remind that according to the regulation, the PPIU take full responsibility for the safety and health of pilgrims. The Religious Affairs Ministry will continue to monitor and evaluate their operations. We will not hesitate to sanction them if they break the rules, as this is for our common safety," he affirmed.

Source: Antara News

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