Mecca Kaaba pilgrims saudi
Socially distanced pilgrims encircle the Holy Kaaba in Mecca. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Saudi authorities have designated 34 tracks for pilgrims to perform a ritual circumambulation of the holy Kaaba in the Grand Mosque in Mecca after precautions against COVID-19 have been put in place again, an official has said.

“Plans have been drawn up to facilitate grouping of the Umrah pilgrims and worshippers as scheduled and mark floors of prayer sites with signs of physical distancing,” Ayman Filemban, the head of the congregation planning department at the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques was quoted by Okaz newspaper as saying.

He cited several precautions adopted to protect health and safety of worshippers including designation of enough circumambulation tracks in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque as well enforcing of distancing and wearing of face masks. 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.

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday confirmed 3,045 new infections for the first time since July 2020, bringing the total to 565,482 cases.

Three virus-related deaths were also reported, taking the total toll in the country to 8,886.