COVID-19: 15 million worshippers access Grand Mosque in 7 months

Cairo: More than 15 million Muslims have been allowed into the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca since October when the Umrah or minor pilgrimage resumed after a suspension of several months due to the global coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest official figures.

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The General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said it has overseen grouping of a total of 10.6 million worshippers and 4.5 other million Umrah pilgrims since Safar 17 (second month in the Islamic calendar) until Ramadan 1.

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Around 500 security personnel are beefing up the service system in the Grand Mosque during this Ramadan, a security official said.

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“All security and safety operations in the Grand Mosque and its facilities are handled according to a clear methodology that ensures fulfilling requirements of security and safety in their ideal shape to protect the worshippers,” chief of the General Directorate for Security Affairs, Fayez Al Harthi, added in media remarks.

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Increased capacity

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In October, Saudi Arabia set into motion a plan for gradual resumption of the Umrah after suspension of around seven months.

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Saudi Arabia has increased capacity of the Grand Mosque in Ramadan to reach 50,000 Umrah pilgrims and 100,000 worshippers per day. Ramadan is usually a peak season for the Umrah.

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Last week, authorities announced that only “immunised” people against COVID-19 will be allowed to perform the Umrah, and visit the Prophet’s Mosque starting from the beginning of Ramadan.

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The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has defined the eligible “immunised” categories as those who have received two doses of the vaccine against COVID-19; those receiving a single dose of inoculation at least 14 days in advance; and those who have recovered from the virus infection.

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