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The Kaaba, a holy Islamic shrine. Photo: Abdel Ghani Bashir/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that it will only allow "very limited numbers" of people to perform the annual hajj this summer due to concerns over the novel coronavirus, AP reports.

Why it matters: The pilgrimage, which is set to occur at the end of July, typically draws around 2 million people from around the world. The Saudi government noted that only people already residing in the country will be authorized to participate.

  • "This decision was taken to ensure hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective," government officials said.
  • The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islamic faith, and all able-bodied Muslims are required to complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

Between the lines: Saudi Arabia is a hotbed for the virus in the Middle East, with approximately 161,000 total confirmed cases and more than 1,300 deaths.

  • The country earlier this year suspended the smaller year-round umrah pilgrimage and closed the Grand Mosque in Mecca to curb the virus' spread.
  • Saudi Arabia has recently eased some of its coronavirus restrictions but continues to keep its borders shut to visitors.

Go deeper

Aug 19, 2020 - World

Scoop: Israel raises concerns with U.S. about new Saudi nuclear facility

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Israel has privately expressed concerns to the Trump administration about a new nuclear facility reportedly built in the Saudi desert with Chinese help, Israeli officials said.

Why it matters: This secret development raises concerns that the Saudis are building infrastructure for a future military nuclear program.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 8 wounded

Police cars restrict access to Oxford High School following the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

A 15-year-old sophomore was arrested after a shooting at a Michigan high school that left three people dead and eight others wounded Wednesday, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The latest: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a briefing Tuesday night that the suspect's father had on Friday bought the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol investigators believe was used in the shooting at Oxford High School. Authorities released the names of the victims late Tuesday.

City Council member Andre Dickens wins Atlanta mayoral race

Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens in Atlanta, Georgia, late Tuesday. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

City Council member Andre Dickens won a runoff election Tuesday to become Atlanta's next mayor, soundly beating the council's president Felicia Moore.

The big picture: Dickens was just a few months ago considered to have an outside chance of replacing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced in May that she wouldn't seek a second term.