Here is why hundreds of thousands of intending pilgrims from Africa may miss 2021 Hajj
The Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has decided to require all external pilgrims from Nigeria and other nations wishing to perform Hajj this year to obtain two doses of WHO-approved vaccine for COVID-19.
The Hujjaj will be required to receive the second dose of the vaccine before arriving in the Kingdom one week before Hajj failure of which will make those who couldn’t achieve this to miss the Hajj.
The Hujjaj will also need to obtain a certified and negative test of the COVID-19 PCR test, 72 hours before their arrival in the Kingdom.
Checks by Platforms Africa however showed that Africa lags behind in terma of vaccination compared to other parts of the World.
The Ministry of Hajj, however, said that it would also require all pilgrims to be subjected to a 72 hours of Mandatory Quarantine, which will only end after a negative PCR test.
In the Hajj 1442 Health Control Plan, the Ministry noted the need for all pilgrims and workers to wear tags and to ensure approved housing and mobility of at least one and a half meters between one and the other, as well as scheduling the flow of pilgrims into groups, so that only 100 pilgrims per group would be limited to the duration of the various rituals of Hajj.
The Ministry has also directed to exclude the most vulnerable groups from pilgrimage and limiting age groups to only 18 to 60 years old.
Meanwhile, as at Saturday, May 1, of more than 580 million doses of vaccine deployed worldwide, Africa has been able to vaccinate just 18 million. England already achieved Covid 19 antibodies in 70% of their population due to vaccination. Israel has achieved herd immunity from the same massive vaccination. UAE, Saudi Arabia are also close to that.
In Nigeria, the Presidential Steering Committee PSC on COVID-19 has expressed concerns over the emergence of new variants of the novel coronavirus, but assured that the federal government remains at alert to ward off any threat.
This was as the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA announced that Nigeria has recorded 8,711 cases of mild vaccine adverse effects and 52 cases of moderate to severe side effects.
It also announced that the federal government has signed up for 28 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines which are expected to be delivered by the end of May.
Chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha who disclosed this on Monday in Abuja said the country is still not out of the woods, urging Nigerians to hold on a little longer.
“If examples from other jurisdictions are anything to go by, we are still in the woods”, he stated.
Mustapha who was speaking during Monday’s briefing of the PSC in Abuja added that subsisting measures against the pandemic would be maintained.
The SGF added that over 1.17 million people have now been vaccinated.
He said; “The significance of the preceding measures is underscored by the fact that several variants of concern are emerging from different jurisdictions and are capable of being imported into Nigeria. We continue to deploy science and data to address these cases. The PSC will provide steps being taken to stop the importation of these cases into Nigeria in our subsequent briefing.
“The vaccination programme is still progressing but we still have reasons to intensify our campaign against hesitancy.
As at date records show that we have vaccinated 1,173,869 representing 58.3% of the eligible persons targeted in the current phase have received the first dose of Astra Zeneca vaccine. This is low in our estimation.
“For some time now, the situation between Nigeria and the UAE over travel requirements have been under management. I am pleased to inform you that we have reached a comfortable position acceptable to both parties.