Coronavirus: Dramatic images show Hajj pilgrimage reduced due to COVID-19 | World news

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Muslims wearing face masks and socially distancing themselves have started arriving in Mecca for a greatly reduced Hajj pilgrimage in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina for the week-long ritual – a unique duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

But this year as few as 1000 people already residing Saudi Arabia will participate in the rally in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19[feminine[feminine.



Pilgrims circle Kaaba in socially remote Hajj

Rather than praying side by side in a sea ​​of ​​people from different backgrounds, the pilgrims separated and moved in small groups of 20.

In recent years, it was common to see men pushing their elderly parents in wheelchairs to help them complete the Hajj, as well as parents carrying children on their backs and people eating together.

This year, however, pilgrims are eating pre-packaged meals on their own in their hotel rooms.

For the first time in Saudi history, the government prohibits Muslims from entering the kingdom from abroad to perform Hajj.

Socially distant pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in the center of the Grand Mosque of Mecca
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Socially distant pilgrims walk around the Kaaba at the center of the Grand Mosque of Mecca
Muslim pilgrims make the last walk around the Kaaba in 2019
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It was a very different scene last year

Pilgrims, selected after applying through an online portal, had to be between 20 and 50 years old, free from terminal illness and showing no symptoms of virus.

Preference has been given to those who have never performed Hajj before.

Socially distant pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in the center of the Grand Mosque of Mecca
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No less than 1000 people will participate in this year’s ritual
The scene was different last year
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But last year millions of Muslims made the pilgrimage

The pilgrims have been tested for the coronavirus and received bracelets that connect to their phones and monitor their movements.

They had to quarantine themselves at home and in their hotel rooms in Mecca before the trip began.

They must also quarantine themselves for a week after the end of Hajj on Sunday.

Pilgrims wear masks at the center of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca
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Pilgrims have been pictured wearing face masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus
A pilgrim wearing a face mask prays at the Grand Mosque in Mecca

The Saudi government covers all the expenses of the pilgrims for travel, accommodation, meals and health care.

The Hajj is one of the most important requirements of Islam and follows a route that the Prophet Muhammad walked almost 1,400 years ago.

Socially distant pilgrims pray at the Grand Mosque in Mecca
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Socially distant Muslim pilgrims pray at the Grand Mosque in Mecca
Pilgrim receives water at the Grand Mosque complex in Mecca

It is believed that he ultimately traces the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they are named in the Bible.

The pilgrimage aims to bring about greater humility and unity among Muslims and it is a journey that followers traditionally experience with their loved ones.

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