Saudi Arabia Announces Hajj Health Measures for Domestic Pilgrims

Worshippers gathering before the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca to attend prayers. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia announced health protocols to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in the 2020 Hajj season; banning gatherings and meetings between pilgrims, reported the Saudi Press Agency on Monday.

Saudi Arabia decided in June to limit the number of domestic pilgrims attending the Hajj to around 1,000 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus; after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first year in modern times.

Touching the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, will be banned during the Hajj this year. A social distancing space of a meter and a half between each pilgrim during the rituals; including mass prayers. While in the Kaaba circling area will be imposed; a statement by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) elaborated.

Also, access to holy Hajj sites at Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat limited to those with Hajj permits starting July 19 until August 2 2020; and wearing masks all the time will be mandatory for both pilgrims and organizers.

Suspected coronavirus cases may complete the Hajj after a specialized physician assess them. The individual will join a group of other suspected cases. All infected cases will remain in separate lodgings and follow a separate pilgrimage route throughout their stay to avoid spreading the disease.

Any organizer displaying flu symptoms will suspend work until he receives a physician’s report that he has recovered.

All areas of the Hajj, from lodgings to the holy mosque in Makkah will be regularly disinfected. Hand sanitizers will be available for the pilgrims throughout the pilgrimage and during resting periods. There will be strict health precautions at every step of their holy journey.

The CDC emphasized the importance of awareness among the pilgrims to respect health guidelines and limit contact with others as much as possible.