Haj pilgrims will have to submit COVID-19 negative report 72 hours prior to their journey to Saudi Arabia in 2021, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Saturday.
After holding a meeting with the Haj Committee and other stake-holders, the minister for minority affairs told reporters that December 10 is the last date for submitting applications for Haj pilgrimage 2021.
"Applicants can apply online, off-line or through a mobile application as well. In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we are making it mandatory for all the pilgrims to submit their COVID-19 negative reports of the RT-PCR test. The date of testing should be 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Saudi Arabia," he said.
Naqvi also said embarking points for Haj 2021 have been reduced to ten in view of the COVID-19 situation and the feedback received from Air India and other agencies.
Previously, there were 21 such embarking locations across the country.
He said the ten boarding spots are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Srinagar.
Naqvi said applications filed for Haj 2020 by women in "without mehram (male companion)" category are valid for Haj 2021 as well.
"Besides, new applications are also being accepted from women who want to perform Haj 2021 without mehram," he said.
The minister also said Muslim women applying in the "without mehram" category will be exempted from the lottery system.