COVID-19: Thermal cameras installed at Grand Mosque gates

Cairo: Over 70 thermal cameras have been installed at the gates of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, Saudi media said.

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The cameras, overseen by 500 employees, function to check temperatures of Umrah pilgrims and visitors of the holy site, an official said.

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“The thermal cameras monitor the body temperature to expose suspected symptoms of COVID-19,” head of the Environmental Prevention Directorate at the Grand Mosque, Hassan bin Barakat, added.

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The high-fidelity cameras, installed six metres at most from the worshippers, are able to specify any visitor having a high temperature, he said.

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Sacred site

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The devices are part of measures enforced at the entrances of the mosque, including marked tracks to ensure distancing among worshippers and an easy access to the sacred site.

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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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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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The kingdom so far has registered a total of 397,636 virus cases and 6,747 fatalities.

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