Coronavirus: Saudi authorities send holy water to hospitalised patients

Decision to distribute Well of Zamzam water made to boost "material and moral" response to the pandemic

A schematic plan of the Grand Mosque in Mecca showingt the footprint of the Prophet Ibrahim and the Well of Zamzam. British Library
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Saudi religious authorities on Sunday ordered the distribution of holy water to patients in hospitals with the coronavirus.

The official news agency said Abdulrahman Al Sudayes, the official in charge of the Great Mosque of Makkah, ordered water from the Well of Zamzam to be delivered to hospitals across the country to enhance the “material and moral support” for coronavirus cases.

The decision “affirms the social responsibility and national duty” of the religious organisation in charge of the Great Mosque, the agency said.

According to Islamic belief, God ordered the prophet Ibrahim to abandon his wife Hagar, and son, Ismail, in the desert of Makkah.
Hagar ran between two small hills, Al Safa and Al Marwa, seven times, searching for water. When she returned to Ismail, she saw the little boy scratching at the ground and a water spring beneath them.

The site is now the Well of Zamzam and pilgrims for centuries have been drinking its water and pacing between the two hills as part of the Hajj rituals.

Six years ago the Food Standards Agency in Britain warned those bringing back Zamzam water that it is undrinkable because it was alleged to contain three times the legal limit of arsenic.

In 2011, the Saudi Embassy in London disputed a BBC report that made similar conclusions, saying that testing by a French lab showed Zamzam water “is fit for human consumption” and suggested that the BBC samples were not the genuine article.

Government data shows at least 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Kingdom and 52 deaths from the contagion, the highest official figures in the GCC.