The annual Hajj begins as Muslim pilgrims dramatically downsized this year, the Saudi hosts strive to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak during the 5-day pilgrimage of Annual Hajj 2020, The hajj, one of the 5 pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, is usually one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.
But this year only up to 10,000 people already residing in the Saudi Arabia will participate in the Holly ritual, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world that attended last year, Khalid bin Qarar Al-Harbi, Saudi Arabia’s director of public security said that “There are no security-related concerns in this pilgrimage, but (downsizing) is to protect pilgrims from the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic,”
Those selected to take part in the Hajj were subject to temperature checks and placed in isolation as they began trickling into Makkah at the weekend. All the Pilgrims will be need to wear face masks and observe social distancing during a series of religious rites that are completed over 5 days in the holy city of Makkah and its surroundings in western Saudi Arabia.
State media showed health workers sanitizing their luggage, and some pilgrims reported being given electronic wristbands to allow authorities to monitor their whereabouts, Workers, clutching brooms and disinfectant, were seen cleaning the area around the Kaaba, the structure at the centre of the Grand Mosque draped in gold-embroidered cloth towards which Muslims around the world pray.
Saudi Hajj authorities have cordoned off the Kaaba this year, saying pilgrims will not be allowed to touch it, to limit the chances of infection. They also reported setting up multiple health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances to cater to the pilgrims.
The foreign press are also barred from this year’s hajj, usually a huge global media event, as the government tightens access to Makkah.
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