Coronavirus: WHO chief hails Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 measures during Hajj

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The head of the World Health Organization has hailed efforts taken by Saudi Arabia to ensure precautionary measures and protocols are enforced during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the comments on Thursday as 10,000 pilgrims made their way from Mount Arafat toward Muzdalifa where they spent the night before heading toward the tent city of Mina where they will symbolically “stone the devil” on the first day of Eid al-Adha.

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"I’d like to congratulate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the steps it has put in place to make the Hajj as safe as possible this year. This is a powerful demonstration of the kinds of measures that countries can and must take to adapt to the new normal," Ghebreyesus said at a news conference in Geneva.

This year’s Hajj was only open to a limited number of people due to the coronavirus pandemic. Seventy percent of the pilgrims were non-Saudi Arabians residing in the Kingdom and 30 percent were Saudi Arabians.

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The guidelines laid out include the implementation of a medical quarantine for all incoming pilgrims ahead of their entry into Mecca’s holy sites.

All pilgrims will be following social distancing measures of keeping two meters between each other throughout their pilgrimage in Mecca. Pilgrims will also be divided into separate groups not exceeding 20 individuals per group. All groups will be accompanied by a guide throughout their pilgrimage.

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