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July 27, 2020, 08.00 PM

DUBAI, — Muslim pilgrims have made their way to Mecca for a scaled-down hajj pilgrimage amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi authorities are trying to balance the kingdom’s oversight of one of Islam’s key pillars while ensuring visitor safety as the global transmission of the Covid-19 virus continues.

Normally, the hajj pilgrimage draws approximately 2.5 million people for five days of intense worship, making it one of the world’s largest gatherings of people from around the world.

This year’s hajj begins on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry said that between 1,000 and 10,000 people currently residing in Saudi Arabia will be permitted to perform the hajj pilgrimage.

Two-thirds of those pilgrims will be foreign residents in Saudi Arabia while the remaining one-third will be Saudi citizens.

The kingdom has one of the Mideast's largest outbreaks of the coronavirus, with more than 266,000 reported infections, including 2,733 deaths.

Fatin Daud, a 25-year-old Malaysian studying Arabic in Saudi Arabia, was among the select few whose application for hajj was approved.

After her selection, Saudi Health Ministry officials came to her home and tested her for the Covid-19 virus.

She was then given an electronic bracelet that monitors her movement and told to quarantine for several days at home.


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