From the Newsroom
São Paulo – Saudi Arabia has received five million pilgrims and worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca since the resumption of Umrah in October, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. The Umrah is an pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Ḥajj.
Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Mohammed Saleh Benten, reported that no case of COVID-19 has been recorded among Umrah worshippers so far. Saudi Arabia had suspended Umrah in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The country announced in September that Umrah would resume in a phased manner. The pilgrimage restarted on October 4, with citizens and expatriates allowed to perform Umrah at 30% of the capacity – equating to 6,000 worshippers per day.
In the second phase, which started on October 18, the number of pilgrims allowed to perform Umrah increased to 15,000 per day.
The third stage, which began on November 1st, permitted pilgrims from outside the country to also perform Umrah and visit the Holy Mosques at 100% capacity – 20,000 pilgrims per day and 60,000 worshippers a day.
Saudi Arabia halted all international flights and closed its borders for a week starting Monday (21) due to the new virus strain. The closure could extend for another week, officials said.
Translated by Guilherme Miranda