Precautions to be taken for Umrah – Saudi Arabia
Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts in combatting the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring a safe Hajj 2021 & Umrah 2021 pilgrimage for its residents this year? The heightened precautionary measures, limited number or pilgrims and social distancing norms helped make sure that Hajj pilgrims were able to perform all rituals in the safest way possible. The result – None of the 10,000 pilgrims tested positive for COVID-19!
As Saudi authorities start preparations for the next Umrah 2021 season, we have drafted a short guide for pilgrims hoping to visit the Holy city of Mecca and Medina in the future.
How to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
By now, it is widely understood that the number of COVID-19 positive cases can be controlled by following the right set of precautions. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health recommends the following precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading:
- Avoid crowded indoor places and large gatherings
- Wash your hands frequently, with soap and water
- Avoid touching your face – Infection can spread easily from your hands to your nose or mouth
- Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, using a tissue or bent elbow
- When using disposable surgical masks, make sure they are replaced and discarded frequently
- Avoid unsafe handling of animals
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 to 2 meter(s) from suspected/confirmed COVID-19 patients
What to do if you suspect you have COVID-19?
If you, your family members or fellow pilgrims are experiencing typical COVID-19 symptoms (respiratory symptoms such as cough and difficulty breathing, or fever and tiredness), you must follow the below-listed steps:
- Make sure you wear a surgical mask to contain the spread of the potentially dangerous Coronavirus
- Call 937 promptly – This is the Saudi Ministry of Health’s toll-free call center for health services
- Go to the nearest hospital for testing and treatment
Awareness about COVID-19 is important – Here’s what you need to know…
Awareness about the COVID-19 infection, its symptoms, how it spreads and how it can be prevented – Is the first step towards ensuring your safety while you are on the pilgrimage. While the virus made its first entry into various countries including Saudi Arabia through travelers who had either been to China or come into contact with infected individuals, it is now spreading internally across the domestic population as well.
The Saudi authorities have employed various measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 such as inbound travel restrictions, implementation of social distancing norms, and equipping healthcare facilities with the equipment needed to safely combat the disease. However, each resident or pilgrim must also take personal precautions to minimize the spread of the virus.
It is known that COVID-19 can spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can contract the virus not only through being in direct contact with an infected individual, but also when you come in contact with a contaminated surface. From observing a high level of personal hygiene and avoiding crowds, to seeking medical help when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, timely and prompt action can go a long way in the fight against this pandemic.
Some Additional Information…
- Time slots for performing Umrah will be free of charge. The Kingdom will not impose any fees.
- There will be three phases for complete resumption.
- There is an easier way for pilgrims to book their time slot for Umrah through the App (so they are cleared by the authorities at the time of visit).
- Users must ensure that they are registered with the Ministry of Health’s Tawakkalna App (Click here to Download) to check their health status and eligibility to perform Umrah. This step must be done before downloading Umrah App to book a slot.
- First Phase will allow only 6000 pilgrims on daily basis which will be divided into 12 groups (500 pilgrims per group) in a span of 24 hours.
- Wheelchairs will be made available for pilgrims who cannot perform Tawaaf and Saee without the need of a support. However, the flow of Tawaaf will be consistent with the same speed and flow.
- All pilgrims will have specified time in which they have to perform the rituals.
- Pilgrims from outside of Makkah who have booked hotels and/or residences, will be asked to assemble/meet at the check points 15 minutes before their scheduled departures to the Masjid Al Haram.
- They will be met by health specialists/guides to perform rituals in a very specific time period within the booked time slots.
- Children will be allowed to accompany their parents as long as they are added to the Tawakkalna App under the user’s dependents.
- Parking of cars will not be allowed inside the central zone around Masjid Al Haram except for those who live in the area.
- Pilgrims arriving by their private car but without a hotel booking will be able to accompany the designated group assigned to the time slot.
- Pilgrims arriving from outside of KSA will be allowed to enter the Kingdom in the third phase (3rd Phase) of the plan with the Ministry of Health designating which nationalities will be allowed in the Kingdom.