Saudi Arabia Says No Virus Cases Reported at Hajj Holy Sites
Saudi Arabia reported on Wednesday 2,945 new coronavirus recoveries, taking the total to 228,569.
In a daily briefing on the outbreak, the Health Ministry registered 1,759 more infections, raising the tally to 272,590.
No infections were reported at the Hajj holy sites as the annual pilgrimage got underway, it stressed.
Twenty-seven more fatalities were confirmed. The death toll now stands at 2,816.
Later on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said a health team will constantly remain by the pilgrims to ensure their safety amid the pandemic.
Six hospitals and 51 clinics are at the disposal of the pilgrims at the holy sites, it added.
Practicing social distancing during the pilgrimage, however, and covering the mouth are the most important means of prevention from the coronavirus, it underlined.
As the Hajj got underway, pilgrims walked into Makkah’s Grand Mosque to begin the ritual with their first "tawaf", the circumambulation of the holy Kaaba.
They were brought in small batches, walking along paths marked on the floor, in sharp contrast to the normal sea of humanity that swirls around the Kaaba during Hajj.
The tawaf, which involves walking around the structure seven times, was completed in "record time", a security commander told state media.
The pilgrims travelled later Wednesday to Mina, where they will spend the night. It sits in a narrow valley surrounded by rocky mountains, and is transformed each year into a vast encampment for pilgrims.
Worshippers will on Thursday climb Mount Arafat, also known as the "Mount of Mercy", for hours of prayers and Koranic recitals.