Those who received COVISHIELD jab can travel for Umrah with no issues, says minister

The Islamic Ministry has said those who have completed the two doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine can travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah pilgrimage with no issues.

Saudi Arabia has said it would allow pilgrims from other countries to travel to Mecca to perform the Umrah pilgrimage next year. However, only those who have received certain brands of vaccine will be allowed entry into Saudi Arabia. The list publicized by the Saudi Arabian government did not include the Indian-manufactured COVISHIED vaccine, which is the brand of vaccine that most Maldivians have received. The public has voiced concern over the matter.

When asked by AVAS, Islamic Minister Dr. Ahmed Zahir Ali said although COVISHIELD is not included in the list issued by Saudi Arabia, those who received the vaccine can travel to Saudi Arabia without any issues. According to the regulations followed by the Hajj and Umra Ministry of Saudi Arabia, any vaccine accepted by the country from which the person is traveling will be accepted by Saudi Arabia, he said.

'The Maldivian government has recognized the COVISHIELD vaccine, and as per the rules, this means the Saudi government too will recognize it. Most countries as well as the World Health Organization now recognize the COVISHIELD vaccine,' the minister said.

The minister further said when the government reopens on Sunday after the Edi holidays, discussions will be held with the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the Maldives to confirm that there will be no further issues caused due to the brand of the vaccine.