Pilgrims began arriving in Mecca on Saturday for the second downsized Hajj conducted during the COVID-19 outbreak, wearing masks and walking on separated routes around Islam’s holiest site, according to Al Jazeera.
Only 60,000 fully vaccinated locals will be allowed to participate in an attempt to duplicate last year’s achievement, which saw no viral breakout throughout the five-day ceremony. This year’s Hajj, which is based on a lottery, is greater than the scaled-back version held in 2020, although it is still significantly less than in normal times.
The event is limited to individuals who have been completely vaccinated and are between the ages of 18 and 65, with no chronic diseases and who were chosen from over 558,000 applications using an online vetting procedure, according to the Hajj Ministry.
“Every three hours, 6,000 people enter to perform the tawaf of arrival. After each group leaves, a sterilization process is carried out at the sanctuary”, Hajj Ministry Spokesperson Hisham al-Saeed told AFP.
In light of the pandemic and the introduction of new strains, the Hajj Ministry announced earlier this month that it was working on the highest levels of health measures.
More than 507,000 COVID-19 infections have been reported in Saudi Arabia, including 8,000 deaths. In addition, more than 20 million vaccine doses have been provided.
No illnesses have been recorded. Authorities put up various health facilities, mobile clinics, and ambulances to attend to the pilgrims, who were transported to holy locations in small groups.