Saudi Arabia raises Umrah capacity to 70,000 pilgrims a day

Authorities will apply strict safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19

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Saudi Arabia will start implementing new Covid-19 safety rules on Thursday to allow up to 70,000 pilgrims a day to perform Umrah.

Strict precautionary measures are in place to prevent the virus spreading among people visiting the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

“We have operated thermal imaging machines and 500 sterilisation units and pumps supported by 11 disinfection robots operated by artificial intelligence as well as 250 fans in the courtyards of the Grand Mosque,” Hani bin Hosni Haidar, spokesman for the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said in statements carried by the official Saudi news agency.

Umrah is similar to the annual Hajj pilgrimage but it can be undertaken at any time.

Mr Haidar said the presidency also increased the production capacity of Zamzam water drawn from the well within the Grand Mosque of Makkah to more than 300,000 bottles per day.

He added that authorities can provide pilgrims with translation services in 10 languages, including English, Chinese, Turkish and Urdu.

Saudi Arabia announced last month that Umrah would return for fully vaccinated foreign pilgrims after it was suspended in February 2020 due to the pandemic.

Pilgrims must provide an authorised Covid-19 vaccination certificate with their request to partake in Umrah.

The government has accelerated a nationwide vaccination drive in a bid to revive tourism and other pandemic-hit sectors, such as sports competitions and entertainment.

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Updated: September 09, 2021, 9:24 AM