The annual Hajj pilgrimage is one of the most studied Mass gathering events (MGs) in the world, where the annual Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage exceeds 10 million pilgrims from around the globe. The annual Hajj takes place at a fixed time each year depending on the lunar calendar from the 8th to 13th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Every year the government of KSA allocated Hajj quotas for the Muslim states around the world. By 2022, the Hajj quota allocated to Pakistan is 81,132. Which was distributed between the Government and Private Hajj Schemes at a ratio of 40: 60. At this Mass Gathering event, the risk of the spread of diseases has become a major health concern of the Saudi government. One of the most feared communicable diseases that may occur during MGs is respiratory tract infections. Such infections may lead to significant outbreaks due to overcrowding and being in very close proximity to each other during the performance of religious rituals of the Hajj or during stay in shared accommodation in tents during their stay in Mina. The KSA government has announced several restrictions for this year after the recovery from COVID-19 to avoid another outbreak of this deadly virus. The pilgrims must be under 65 years, be fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine and have a negative PCR test. The concern of resurgence of COVID-19 outbreak with the currently circulating variants of concerns (VOC) strains or new emergent variants during 2022 Hajj is a possibility, but not a very likely one based on what has been seen on a global level with the complete lifting of all PHSM with no testing, contact tracing or isolation and quarantine of infected individuals. Thus, with close monitoring of the outcome of both Umrah and Hajj seasons in 2022, it is predicted that the 2023 Hajj season will return to full-scale pilgrimage as many countries transit from a pandemic phase to an endemic phase of the COVID-19.
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