RIYADH: At least 24,000 pilgrims have performed Umrah since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia partially resumed the pilgrimage with extensive health precautions after a seven-month coronavirus hiatus.
No coronavirus case has thus far been reported among pilgrims, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said in a statement.
“On the fourth day of the pilgrimage, we received some 24,000 worshipers, none of whom showed symptoms of the virus,” Saudi media quoted the spokesman of the presidency as saying.
The presidency focused on four main elements, – prevention, disinfection, evacuation and awareness – as part of its plan to resume Umrah, he said.
“The presidency coordinated with the Health Ministry in preparing four health isolation centers for any pilgrim who shows any symptoms of the virus or who is suspected of contracting it,” he added.
Saudi Arabia decided to gradually resume Umrah pilgrimage from October 4. In the first phase, the authorities decided to allow 6,000 citizens and expatriates from within the kingdom to perform Umrah per day. The second phase will increase the Grand Mosque’s capacity to 75 per cent, which would include 15,000 pilgrims and 40,000 worshippers a day from October 18.
In the third phase, pilgrims from abroad would be allowed to perform Umrah from November 1 with at full capacity of 20,000 pilgrims and 60,000 worshippers per day. The fourth stage will see the Grand Mosque return to normal, when all the COVID-19 risks have gone away.