ISLAMABAD - The Saudi government has asked Pakistan to stop making any contracts for Hajj 2020 due to the threat of Covid-19.

The Saudi government conveyed this through a letter written to Pa­kistan’s Ministry for Religious Af­fairs and Interfaith Harmony.

The letter says, all the pilgrims must be directed that no new contracts would take place due to the outbreak of coronavirus around the world.

It further explained that all these measures were taken for the good health and life of the people coming for Hajj from around the world.

The Saudi government further assured the Pakistani govern­ment that it is regularly moni­toring the situation and will in­form Pakistan regarding the further development.

It is pertinent to men­tion that Saudi Arabia has al­ready halted travel to the holy sites of Muslims over the Cov­id-19 over fears just months ahead of the annual Hajj pil­grimage, as the Middle East re­corded more than hundreds of confirmed cases.

The extraordinary decision by Saudi Arabia prevents foreign­ers from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba.

The earliest recorded out­break came in 632 as pilgrims fought off malaria. A cholera outbreak in 1821 killed an esti­mated 20,000 pilgrims. Another cholera outbreak in 1865 killed 15,000 pilgrims and then spread worldwide.