Saudi Arabia has arrested more than 120 people suspected of supplying or obtaining fraudulent coronavirus vaccine and test certificates, official media said Thursday, two days before a tightly controlled hajj.
The state-run SPA news agency said nine Health Ministry officials are among the accused, all of whom have pleaded guilty.
About 60,000 Saudi residents with vaccination certificates will join the religious pilgrimage this year, the second time the gathering has been massively curtailed due to the pandemic.
The suspects in the fraudulent certificate case allegedly used social media to advertise their services.
These included changing infection status, vaccination status and whether one or two doses were administered, SPA reported.
Twenty-one people — nine Saudi citizens and 12 residents — are accused of acting as intermediaries in the fraud.
Those accused of using the illegal services are 76 civilians and 16 residents.
Saudi authorities announced in July that two Health Ministry officials were among the suspects arrested in a similar conspiracy to illegally alter coronavirus data.
A criminal investigation has been launched into the case, but the number of suspects has not been disclosed.
More than 21 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the Gulf state of 34 million people, according to health ministry data released Thursday.
On Wednesday, the ministry announced 1,226 new cases and 14 deaths, bringing the total number of infections to 504,960 and the cumulative number of deaths to 8,020.
From August, only vaccinated individuals will be allowed to enter government buildings, educational institutions, entertainment venues, or use public transportation.
And only vaccinated workers in both the public and private sectors are allowed to return to the workplace.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)