A member of the Saudi security forces sprays water on Muslim pilgrims during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mina, near Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on June 29, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Saudi medical teams have handled more than 6,500 cases of heat and sunstrokes among Muslim pilgrims during the current Hajj pilgrimage that coincides with searing temperatures, health authorities have said.

“The Health Ministry attends to all cases that have suffered heat exhaustion. All resources have been harnessed to serve the Guests of Allah in the holy places,” the ministry’s spokesman Dr Mohammed Al-Abdulaali was quoted as saying in the Saudi media

Temperatures hit 42 degrees Celsius in the Mina valley near the holy city of Mecca early Thursday, Saudi TV Al Ekhbariya reported.

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The kingdom’s Health Ministry has advised pilgrims to avoid exposure to direct sunlight, choose the favourable time to perform the symbolic ritual of devil stoning that started Wednesday, drink enough amounts of water and other liquids and use umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun.

As many as 111,761 pilgrims have received medical services at healthcare facilities in the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina over the past 39 days, the ministry said.

A total of 172 healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia’s holy sites have been put in place to serve pilgrims this year.

The ministry said that 32 hospitals supported by 140 health centres are allocated to provide services for pilgrims.

The ministry said it continues for the second year in a row to offer the virtual hospital service after its success in last year’s Hajj season.

More virtual clinics have been introduced into the holy places this year, the ministry added, putting the total healthcare professionals mobilised for serving pilgrims at more than 32,000.

Around 1.8 million Muslims are performing Hajj this year after Saudi Arabia has lifted pandemic-related restrictions, according to official figures.

Link to a video aired by Al Ekhbariya TV showing a Saudi security man spraying water on a pilgrim to cool him amid high temperatures. https://twitter.com/alekhbariyatv/status/1674083638617722880