On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia will begin hosting pilgrims for Hajj. This year’s pilgrimage will be drastically reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, which for the first time in modern history has stopped millions from taking part in the ceremony.
This year, around 10,000 people living in the kingdom will perform Hajj after an opaque selection process with many applicants rejected. This makes it a tiny fraction from the 2.5 million people that attended last year.
The international press is excluded from this year’s hajj. This is normally a major global media event but will not take place this year as the government tightens entry to Makkah’s holy city and imposes stringent safety restrictions to avoid a virus outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage.
The ministry that looks after Hajj has said it has set up various health centers, mobile clinics and ambulances have been built to cater for pilgrims who will be expected to follow social distances.
Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 260,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, while the number of declared global infections exceeded 16 million on Sunday.