Historic Moment as Khana-e-Kaaba is CLOSED, Sterilization Amid Coronavirus Fear
Image Source: Twitter.com
Saudi Arabia on Thursday emptied Makkah’s Grand Mosque for sterilization over fears of the novel coronavirus, an unprecedented move after the dominion suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage.
State television relayed stunning images of an empty white-tiled area surrounding the Khana-e-Kaaba which is usually packed with tens of thousands of pilgrims. The move was a “temporary preventive measure” but the upper floors of the Grand Mosque were still open for prayers, a Saudi official said.
On Wednesday, the dominion halted the Umrah pilgrimage for its own citizens and residents. The move came after authorities last week suspended visas for Umrah and barred citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council from entering Makkah and Medina.
Saudi Arabia on Thursday declared three new coronavirus cases, bringing the entire number of reported infections to 5 .
The Umrah, which refers to the pilgrimage to Makkah that can be undertaken at any time of year, attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe annually. The decision to suspend Umrah comes before the holy fasting month of Ramazan starting in late April, which may be a favoured period for pilgrimage.
It is unclear how the coronavirus will affect Hajj, due to start in late July. Some 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the planet in 2019 to require part within the hajj, which is one among the five pillars of Islam as Muslim obligations are known.
The event may be a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites, making attendees susceptible to contagion.