umrah pilgrims unvaccinated Covid-19 vaccine Omicron Saudi Arabia SAFTTA
Jemaah melakukan tawaf mengelilingi Kaabah sebanyak tujuh pusingan ketika tinjauan lensa Malaysia Gazette di Mekah, Arab Saudi. Foto HAZROL ZAINAL, 18 OKTOBER 2021.

KUALA LUMPUR – The Selangor Association for Travel and Tourism Agencies (SAFTTA) expressed its shock over Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar’s assertion that 14 percent of the umrah pilgrims managed by tour agents did not have vaccination record.

Its President, Fathir Badri Alhadad said that the Saudi Arabian government imposed very tight standard operating procedures (SOP) on umrah pilgrims.

Information on the type of vaccines and their health status need to be updated into their Muqem application 72 hours before the pilgrims’ departure.

The application also connects to two other applications; the Tawakalna and Eatamarna where, its information are linked to get slot to perform umrah, enter the Raudah and perform their prayers at the Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi mosques.

Therefore, SAFTTA demanded for immediate respond from the Ministry of Health, if the figure 14 mentioned involved all umrah pilgrims.

“We felt slightly disappointed as it has entered the fourth day since the statement was made but the MOH is still investigating on the matter.

“The more time the MOH takes, the worse the people’s perception on the umrah pilgrims. We can see and read from the social media that most of the people are blaming the umrah pilgrims for willing to cheat in order to perform their umrah.

“It also attracted the attention of several muftis to comment on the matter,” he said in a statement today.

According to Fathir, if the matter was true, SAFTTA would support that stern actions should be taken against the tour agents by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC).

Therefore, SAFTTA welcomed the statement by MoTAC on 9 January which was very concerned about the fates of the tour agencies during the trying times.

“We also hoped that a SOP related discussion would be held soon. We have several proposals to share, and perhaps, they can help MoTAC and the National Security Council to overcome the umrah pilgrims issue,” he said.

During a news conference on 6 January, Khairy Jamaluddin said that 14 percent or 17 out of 122 Omicron variant Covid-19 cases in the country did not have vaccination history. Based on the data as of 4 January 2022, 12 out of 17 of them were among the umrah pilgrims.

Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said, he was investigating the 12 pilgrims on why they did not take Covid-19 vaccine.

“We will check first. We are investigating because we just received this data,” he said during a news conference, showing the non-compliance of standard operating procedures (SOP) on the umrah pilgrimage travel. -MalaysiaGazette

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