MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia has granted approval for people vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik jab to enter the country in a move that will enable Muslims to take part in Haj and Umrah, the vaccine’s developers said on Sunday.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has granted approval for entry of individuals vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine starting from January 1, 2022,” the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the development of Sputnik V, said in a statement. The decision, said the fund, “will enable Muslims from all over the world vaccinated with Sputnik V to participate in the Haj and the Umrah pilgrimages to Islam’s holiest sites in the cities of Makkah and Madina.” Foreign tourists vaccinated with Sputnik will still be required to quarantine for 48 hours and take a PCR test.
Saudi Arabia has joined more than 100 countries accepting visitors vaccinated with Sputnik, the RDIF said, adding that only 15 countries including the United States currently require travellers to be jabbed with vaccines other than Sputnik.
The Haj — a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lives — typically packs millions of pilgrims into congested religious sites and could be a major source of contagion during the pandemic.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2021