Today, Wednesday, the Hajj rituals for the year 1443 AH, in the largest season since the outbreak of the Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic, will officially begin, amid precautionary measures that include sterilizing the Grand Mosque 12 times a day.
On Thursday, pilgrims will move to Mina, about 5 kilometers from the Grand Mosque, before the main ritual of Hajj on Friday, which is the ascent of Mount Arafat.
And the Saudi authorities allowed one million Muslims who received vaccines against the Corona virus, including 850,000 who came from abroad, to perform the Hajj this year, after two years of significantly reducing the numbers due to the epidemic.
This year’s pilgrimage, whose participants were chosen by lottery, is much larger than the previous two seasons in 2020 and 2021 but still smaller than normal times.
In 2019, about 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world participated in the annual Hajj, one of the Five Pillars of Islam and an obligation that Muslims who are able to perform at least once in their lives.
But then, the outbreak of the Corona virus forced the Saudi authorities to significantly reduce the number of pilgrims, as 60,000 citizens and residents in the Kingdom participated and were fully vaccinated in 2021, compared to a few thousand in 2020.
This year’s pilgrimage is limited to the age group less than 65 years, with the requirement to complete immunization with basic doses of Corona vaccines approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health.
The authorities required pilgrims from outside the Kingdom to submit a negative coronavirus test result for a sample taken within 72 hours before the departure date.
The authorities set up many health facilities, mobile clinics, and equipped ambulances to meet the needs of pilgrims, especially with the high temperatures.
Inside the Grand Mosque, ambulance teams are deployed in various locations, while dozens of volunteers line up in long queues while holding wheelchairs to help those who cannot walk long distances.
For his part, the Director of the General Administration of Environmental Protection and Epidemiology in Saudi Arabia, Hassan Al-Suwaihri, confirmed that the Grand Mosque is disinfected 12 times a day, pointing out that more than 70,000 liters of sterilizers are used to purify the mosque in order to serve the pilgrims.
Al-Suwaihri said in statements to the Saudi “Al-Ikhbariya” channel on Tuesday evening, that the sterilization and disinfection teams are present 24 hours a day and consume more than 70,000 liters of sterilizers daily.
He added that these teams have more than 1,300 equipment and tools to purify the Grand Mosque, including 11 smart robots, including advanced disinfection devices, more than 500 hand sterilization devices, and there are manual and electronic disinfection pumps.