Malaysia Minster is hoping that the Covid-19 Omicron variant will not jeopardise Muslim pilgrims from going to Mecca and performing their haj, says the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs).
Idris Ahmad said he hoped that the new variant would not hit the country as pilgrims from Malaysia could not perform their haj earlier this year due to the pandemic.
“We hope that this emerging variant will not involve our country,” he told a press conference after officiating at a Malaysia Islamic Economic Development Foundation (YaPEIM) charity programme here yesterday.
He was asked whether the Omicron variant would affect Muslim pilgrims from this country in performing the haj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
In July this year, Tabung Haji had suspended all affairs related to haj operations in line with Saudi Arabia’s decision to restrict this year’s pilgrimage to its citizens and residents within the kingdom.
Malaysia did not send pilgrims for the haj season last year, also because of the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has set a maximum of 60,000 pilgrims for this year’s haj season in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a report, only those aged between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated would be allowed to perform the haj.
Idris also said that Tabung Haji group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Amrin Awaluddin had just returned from Saudi Arabia after holding a discussion with authorities there for next year’s haj.
“The Saudi Arabian government is looking at implementing new standard operating procedures to cater for logistic needs during next year’s haj, which is in line with the new norms under Covid-19.
“Tabung Haji will brief me next week, and the meeting will also touch on the expected price increase for the haj,” he said, adding that Saudi Arabia has yet to provide information on the Malaysian quota for the 2022 haj.
On Nov 28, Bernama reported that the cost of performing the haj was expected to increase by more than 50%.
This followed the 15% value added tax introduced by Saudi Arabia, from only 5% previously.
Quoting the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, the report added that this would result in the cost of performing the haj for Malaysians to be more than RM30,000 compared to only RM23,000 previously.
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