Saudi faces perilous Hajj call as virus spikes

Saudi Arabia is expected to scale back or call off this year's Hajj pilgrimage for the first time in its modern history, observers say, a perilous decision as coronavirus cases spike, SIA reports.

Muslim nations are pressing Riyadh to give its much-delayed decision on whether the annual ritual will go ahead as scheduled in late July.

But as the kingdom negotiates a call fraught with political and economic risks in a tinderbox region, time is running out to organise logistics for one of the world's largest mass gatherings. A full-scale Hajj, which last year drew about 2.5 million pilgrims, appears increasingly unlikely after authorities advised Muslims in late March to defer preparations due to the fast-spreading disease.

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