COVID-19 negative report must for Hajj pilgrims next year

Hajj pilgrims will have to submit COVID-19 negative report 72 hours prior to their journey to Saudi Arabia in 2021, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Saturday. After holding a meeting with the Hajj Committee and other stake-holders, the minister for minority affairs told reporters that December 10 is the last date for submitting applications for Hajj pilgrimage 2021.

“The applicants can apply online, off-line or through Hajj mobile application as well. In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we are making it mandatory for all the pilgrims to submit their COVID-19 negative report of RT-PCR test. The date of testing should be 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Naqvi also said embarking points for Hajj 2021 have been reduced to ten in view of the COVID-19 situation and the feedback received from Air India and other agencies. Previously, there were 21 such embarking locations across the country.

He said the ten boarding spots are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Srinagar. Naqvi said applications filled for Hajj 2020 by women in “without mehram (male companion)” category are valid for Hajj 2021 as well.

“Besides, new applications are also being accepted from women who want to perform Hajj 2021 without mehram,” he said.

The minister also said Muslim women applying in “without mehram” category will be exempted from the lottery system.