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S/Arabia tightens COVID-19 measures in Mecca

Saudi Arabia on Thursday reimposed social distancing measures at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah, after recording the highest number of infections…

Saudi Arabia on Thursday reimposed social distancing measures at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah, after recording the highest number of infections in months. 

Workers have returned floor markings removed on October 17 to guide people to social distance in and around the Grand Mosque, which is built around the Kaaba, the black cubic structure towards which Muslims around the world pray. Saudi authorities said they will reimpose “social distancing requirements between worshippers and pilgrims” at the Grand Mosque, without specifying whether a capacity has been set. 

Earlier, the kingdom had said social distancing and masks were again required in both indoor and outdoor venues. 

The kingdom of approximately 34 million people has so far recorded more than 554,000 coronavirus cases, including 8,874 deaths, the highest number of fatalities among the Gulf Arab countries. On Wednesday, Saudi recorded 744 cases, the highest number since mid-August.

The COVID-19 pandemic hugely disrupted Muslim pilgrimages, which are usually key revenue earners for the kingdom, bringing in some $12bn annually. 

The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states -Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar- have been recording their highest numbers of new cases in months. Despite having the world’s highest vaccination rate, the UAE has recorded the largest number of infections among Gulf countries at more than 757,000. 

On Wednesday, it recorded 2,234 infections, the highest number since June. (AFP)

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