Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia announces Hajj protocols, measures for pilgrims

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Saudi Arabia will enforce several health measures and protocols for Muslims who will be performing the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage in an effort to prevent the deadly coronavirus from spreading, the Kingdom’s Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq al-Rabiah said on Tuesday.

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The Hajj pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, will only welcome a “limited number” of people this year, the country’s foreign ministry had said on Monday.

Every year, about 2.5 million Muslims visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina, which could make it a possible breeding ground for the disease.

To prevent COVID-19 from spreading among pilgrims, the health ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Hajj and Umraj, developed a plan to ensure the safety of all visitors.

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“We worked with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia to develop preventative and precautionary measures and protocols that are needed to ensure a safe Hajj season,” the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Muhammad Saleh Benten said.

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Here are the protocols:

1. The number of Muslims allowed to perform the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage may be around 1,000.

2. All pilgrims will be tested before they reach the holy sites.

3. Only Muslims under the age of 65 will be allowed to perform Hajj this year.

4. All pilgrims will be asked to self-quarantine after they complete the Hajj rituals.

5. All workers and volunteers will be tested before the Hajj pilgrimage begins.

6. The health status of all pilgrims will be monitored daily.

7. A hospital has been prepared for any emergency that occurs during the pilgrimage.

8. Social distancing measures will be enforced.

A total of 9,108,670 people worldwide have been infected with the deadly coronavirus, which has also killed 472,703 others, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.

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