JEDDHA – The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah declared on Sunday the success of the first day of the Umrah pilgrimage, which was resumed some seven months after it was suspended due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
No infections or health violations were reported on the first day of the resumption of the pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. Saudi Arabia has allowed citizens and residents to start performing Umrah as of Saudi at 30 percent capacity, or 6,000 pilgrims a day. It will open for Muslim from abroad starting Nov.1.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Dr. Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat in organizing the Umrah have succeeded in implementing the plans that were introduced amid the extraordinary circumstance imposed by the pandemic.
Zero infections being reported is credited to the success of these efforts and the strict health measures that have been adopted from the very moment the pilgrims arrived at the five gathering centers, he added.
It is this organization that allowed the first day of the Umrah to pass smoothly and calmly, he continued.
Organizing the pilgrims at gathering centers allows organizers to accurately very their permits and keep track of them throughout their stay in Makkah. After a health check at the center, the pilgrims are guided towards the Grand Mosque, accompanied with a health guide.
Mashat said over 200,000 Umrah permits have been processed and issued. The authorities will not stop issuing them until the allowed number of pilgrims is reached. The Umrah is set to resume to full operational capacity in three phases.
The official said the first phase will witness 1,000 pilgrims and will extend to 14 days. After that, 15,000 pilgrims will be accommodated on a daily basis for another two weeks. Operation capacity will be restored in full after four weeks. This all depends on the pandemic.
Official spokesman for the Makkah health authority Hamad al-Otaibi told reporters that should a suspected infection be detected, then a pilgrim will be referred to the closest health center where he will be tested.
The General Presidency for the affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has taken all necessary preventive measures to safeguard the pilgrims. It has deployed 400 workers, who disinfect the Grand Mosque 15 minutes after each batch of pilgrims exits the premises, meaning that they will be cleaning the area ten times per day.
Nine hundred liters of hand sanitizers and 1,000 liters of carpet and 25,000 liters of surface disinfectants will be used on a daily basis during the first of the pilgrimage.