COVID-19: 18 tracks for encircling Kaaba

Cairo: Saudi authorities have designated 18 tracks for worshippers to circumambulate the holy Kaaba in the Grand Mosque in Mecca to cope with an increase of visitors and curb the spread of COVID-19, an official has said.

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

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Fourteen circumambulation tracks are designated in the courtyard of the mosque around the Kaaba with marked signs on the floor to ensure physical distancing during the ritual. The four others are designated on the first floor of the mosque to be used when the need arises.

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Moreover, prayer areas have been allocated for the circumambulation prayers accommodating nearly 2,000 worshippers at one time.

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“The General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques does its best serve the Grand Mosque and worshippers, including welcoming groups of the Umrah pilgrims at the mosque and taking care of them until they finish their rituals,” Eng. Osama Al Hejeili, the head of the Grouping Directorate, said.

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“An integrated plan has been worked out to protect pilgrims and other visitors in view of the pandemic circumstances,” he added.

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The official urged worshippers to stick to the tracks and observe physical distancing for their safety

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

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The Ministry of Hajj 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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