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Prince Khalid Al Faisal, governor of the Makkah region and president of the Central Hajj Committee, confirmed on Friday that so far no Covid-19 infections had been detected among pilgrims on the first day of Hajj.
In Mina, Prince Khalid hailed Saudi Arabia’s Hajj preparations after two years of staging a limited capacity Hajj because of the pandemic.
“The kingdom did not pause Hajj over the past two years despite the Covid-19 pandemic, but was held in a limited capacity. This year we welcomed one million pilgrims and the kingdom is honoured to serve pilgrims anytime and anywhere,” Prince Khalid said.
He confirmed that 19 individuals responsible for breaches of Hajj restrictions by transporting unauthorised people were arrested and that 79 individuals who ran fake Hajj campaigns were also detained.
Prince Khalid said 150,000 security men and workers in the field are stationed to serve Hajj pilgrims this year.
More than 2,500 people who broke border security restrictions were also arrested in the days leading up to Hajj. They were suspected of trying to enter the holy sites to perform the pilgrimage without a permit.
Huge crowds of robed Muslim pilgrims prayed on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat on Friday, the climax of the biggest Hajj pilgrimage since the pandemic forced drastic cuts in numbers two years in a row.
The Day of Arafat is the second day of Hajj, when believers make their way to the mountain where the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon.
After the sermon, Hajj pilgrims will spend the afternoon praying on the mountain. They will then head to Muzdalifah after sunset, where they will pick up pebbles for the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual on Saturday.