Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat underscored the measures the Kingdom is taking to detect novel coronavirus cases among foreign Umrah pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia has been resuming the pilgrimage in stages since the beginning of October. The Kingdom has allowed citizens and residents to start performing Umrah as of Oct.4 at 30 percent capacity, or 6,000 pilgrims a day. It will open for Muslims from abroad starting Nov. 1. No virus cases have been reported among the pilgrims.
Mashat said the foreign pilgrims will go through a four-stage plan that tests for the virus from the moment they arrive on Saudi territories.
They will sit in medical isolation for three days before beginning the Umrah rituals, he added in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Ten percent of hotel rooms have been dedicated to the pilgrims in isolation and with suspected virus infections.
The pilgrims will be allowed to perform the Umrah in batches, he went on to say. Each batch will include 3,300 worshipers and only one batch will be allowed at a time at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah. Each batch will have three hours to perform the rituals.
All steps of the pilgrimage are being coordinated with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Health Ministry, Ministry of Interior and The General Presidency for the affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque.
Mashat stressed that Saudi Arabia welcomes pilgrims from throughout the world, but the pandemic has forced authorities to implement strict screening processes. The number of pilgrims coming from any certain country depends on the extent of the virus outbreak in the country.
Saudi Arabia is adopting all necessary health measures and precautions as the pilgrims arrive in the Kingdom, he added.
Priority will be given to pilgrims who do not suffer from any chronic illnesses and everyone will have to take a PCR test before flying to the Kingdom.
Should a suspected infection be detected after a pilgrim arrives to the Kingdom, then he will be treated before leaving the country.
The ultimate goal, continued Mashat, is for the pilgrims to have a smooth and safe Umrah. The precautions that have been adopted ensure that the pilgrims are protected even before they arrive in Saudi Arabia.
Sponsors of the pilgrims in their home country are responsible for providing all necessary documentation and Saudi authorities are responsible for the worshiper when he arrives in the Kingdom. Once he passes a Health Ministry assessment, he is allowed to move on to the holy sites.
Mashat highlighted the importance of the Eatmarna dedicated app that the pilgrim must follow to even before he flies to the Kingdom.