Saudi resumes umrah pilgrimage in Makkah

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia resumed on Sunday the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah amid strict anti-coronavirus precautions after a hiatus of more than six months, reported Xinhua news agency.

The first group of pilgrims arrived and performed Umrah at Makkah’s Grand Mosque early on Sunday, under precautions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque tweeted.

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The photos uploaded by the Presidency showed pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba, the building in the centre of the Grand Mosque, while wearing face masks.

Since Saudi Arabia launched an application process on Sept. 27 for those who wish to perform Umrah, 108,041 permits had been issued for pilgrims by Oct. 1, according to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Makkah and can be performed year-round. Saudi Arabia announced earlier that it would gradually resume Umrah pilgrimage in stages starting Oct. 4.

To contain the spread of COVID-19, Saudi Arabia suspended the entry of foreign pilgrims seeking to perform Umrah in Makkah or visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina on Feb. 27. On March 4, the kingdom also suspended Umrah pilgrimage for its own citizens and residents.

Saudi Arabia reported 390 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising the total number in the country to 336,387, the Ministry of Health announced Sunday.

— BERNAMA