Hajj authorities ready to receive pilgrims on Arafat

JEDDAH – (WARSOOR) – The Saudi Health Ministry has completed its preparations to provide medical care for pilgrims who will gather on the plains of Mount Arafat to perform the pinnacle of the Hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, the ninth day of Dul-Hijjah.

Health facilities in Arafat have been equipped with general clinics staffed by family doctors, internal consultants and nurses specialized in intensive care, as well as facilities equipped to deal with sunstroke and heat stress.

There will also be a mobile hospital in Arafat and mobile clinics in Muzdalifah throughout the Day of Arafat to serve the pilgrims until their departure.

The ministry has also prepared an integrated camp in the Arafat area to isolate suspected cases of coronavirus and to apply preventive measures.

The Civil Defense forces have increased their readiness in Mina and have taken all measures to preserve pilgrims’ safety throughout their stay.

The commander of the Civil Defense for Hajj, Maj. Gen. Hamoud Al-Faraj, confirmed the readiness of his teams. “All parties involved are carrying out their tasks to handle any risks according to the general plan for the Hajj pilgrimage,” he said.

On the Day of Tarwiyah, the ministry announced that no coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases were reported among pilgrims.

With the Saudi authorities limiting the number pilgrims to 1,000 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of those privileged to be able to perform Hajj this year was a Macedonian woman who has been living in Riyadh for six years.

Hamide Halimi told Arab News: “I’ve been dreaming of Hajj ever since I came here and it’s finally happening.”

“In my group, we’re 20-something women and throughout this experience, I’ve been with women only. From the hotel to Miqat and to the Haram, we’re all women. Even the women that came with their husbands, they had to keep with the women. So it’s an amazing sisterhood experience,” she said

Halimi is very happy to see that the authorities have organized to keep the women closest to the Kaaba today for Tawaf (circumambulation) and they have made it easy for them all day.

During her previous visits to perform Umrah, she circumambulated the Kaaba from very far away and once, due to the size of the crowd, she had to perform the ritual from the Grand Mosque’s roof.

Halimi could not believe how close she was to the Kaaba while performing her arrival Tawaf. “It was a surreal moment that I could never have imagined happening.”

She said: “Last year, on the Day of Arafat, I asked for a Hajj where I didn’t burden anyone. And so it happened. How will it all work? Everyone who performs Hajj has to make some arrangements but it’s just been such smooth sailing, I’m lost for words.”

She explained about the tracking bracelets they were given: “When we went to medical centers, we had a regular health check-up and then at the end we were also tested in case we have coronavirus. We were given a bracelet which works with an app that you install on your phone and it tracks each day your isolation,” Halimi added.

She said that all pilgrims are adhering to social distancing rules and guidelines. “Each group consists of between 20-30 pilgrims.”

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry recorded 1,759 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the number in the Kingdom to 272,590. There were 41,205 active cases that are still receiving medical care, while 2,063 are in a critical condition.

Another 2,945 patients have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 228,569.

Saudi Arabia announced 27 new COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll now stands at 2,816.