On eve of Ramadan, worshippers perform Tawaf around Kaaba

Just hours before Ramadan began, dozens of Muslim worshippers undertaking the Umrah pilgrimage on Monday performed Tawaf around the Kaaba

Just hours before Ramadan began, dozens of Muslim worshippers undertaking the Umrah pilgrimage on Monday performed Tawaf around the Kaaba.

Umrah is the Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah that can be undertaken at any time of year and attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe annually.

During Ramadan, the Kaaba is usually filled with thousands of worshippers.

However, with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of visitors to the holy city is restricted.

Limited numbers undertaking the Umrah each day ensures social distancing, authorities say. All worshippers also wore masks.

Throughout Ramadan, the Grand Mosque in Makkah will be sterilised 10 times a day using 60,000 litres of sanitising material, authorities said. Thirty thermal cameras to detect signs of a fever will also check all arrivals.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrines, has recorded a surge in Covid-19 infections pushing authorities to announce new measures.

There were 842 cases on Monday and 11 deaths bringing total cases to 399,000 and fatalities to 6,765.

On Sunday, the government announced that second vaccination jabs would be postponed in order to give the largest number of people a first dose.

The Hajj and Umrah Ministry said pilgrims performing Umrah during the holy month must have had at least one jab of the vaccine against the virus or otherwise be immune.

Employees working in the Hajj and Umrah industry must have vaccinated all staff before April 12 or provide negative PCR tests every two weeks.

During the holy month, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. It typically lasts for either 29 or 30 days.

Ramadan around the Middle East – in pictures

Updated: April 13, 2021 12:13 PM

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