Pilgrims practice social distancing as they perform Umrah in the Grand Mosque in a file photo. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Saudi authorities have cancelled the possibility of undertaking a second Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in the Grand Mosque in Mecca following the first, setting a 10-day interval for such repetition as the country is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infections, according to a Saudi newspaper.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has attributed the step to recent precautions against COVID-19 reimposed in the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, Okaz reported.

In October 2020, Saudi Arabia resumed Umrah after about seven months of suspension due to the global pandemic.

Last week, Saudi Arabia said that wearing face masks and social distancing were reimposed in outdoor and indoor places amid an increase in COVID-19 infections.

Authorities also reintroduced distancing in the two holy mosques after it was cancelled in October.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed 3,045 new COVID-19 cases and three related deaths. They raise the kingdom’s tally to 565,482 cases and 8,886 related fatalities.