The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah declared on Sunday the success of the first day of the Umrah pilgrimage; resumed some seven months after suspending due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
No infections or health violations were 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 Sunday at 30 percent capacity, or 6,000 pilgrims a day. It will also open for Muslims from abroad starting Nov. 1.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat said that all concerned authorities involved in organizing the Umrah succeeded in implementing the plans; introduced amid the extraordinary circumstances imposed by the pandemic.
Zero infections being reported is credited to the success of these efforts and the strict health measures; 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 also continued.
Organizing the pilgrims at gathering centers allows organizers to accurately verify 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.
Full operational capacity
Mashat said over 200,000 Umrah permits have been processed and issued. The authorities will not stop issuing them until reaching the allowed number of pilgrims. The Umrah is 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 resume in full after four weeks. This all depends on the pandemic.
Official spokesman for the Makkah’s health authority Hamad al-Otaibi said that in case of detecting a suspected infection; then a pilgrim will go 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 took all necessary preventive measures. This is also to safeguard the pilgrims. It 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.
900 liters of hand sanitizers, 1,000 liters of carpet, and 2,5000 liters of surface disinfectants will be available daily; during the first phase of the pilgrimage.