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Striking photos show socially-distanced Hajj

July 29, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A picture taken on July 29, 2020 shows pilgrims circumambulating around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the centre of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, at the start of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage. - Mask-clad Muslim pilgrims began the annual hajj, dramatically downsized this year as the Saudi hosts strive to prevent a coronavirus outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage. The hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, is usually one of the world's largest religious gatherings. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Muslim worshipers observed the first rituals of an historic Hajj on Wednesday, with a small fraction of regular number of pilgrims who adhered to "safety bubbles" over fears of the coronavirus.

Muslim worshipers observed the first rituals of an historic Hajj on Wednesday, with around 1,000 pilgrims adhering to "safety bubbles" and social distancing measures over fears of the coronavirus.

On average, over two million pilgrims attend the Hajj, which is considered one of the five pillars of Islam.

International pilgrims have been barred from this year's Hajj.

"We are trying to apply the concept of safety bubbles, where every pilgrim will have an environment around him or her that are free and safe as much as possible from any kind of hazards, so all that is needed by the Hajjis is their personal protective equipment their hygiene products are provided free of charge," Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventative Health at the Saudi Ministry of Health, Dr. Abdullah Assiri told CNN in an interview on Wednesday.

All of these pilgrims have already gone through a rigorous quarantine and health screening process, according to Saudi authorities.

"There are some rituals of Hajj that we cannot really separate [the pilgrims] because they have to be in one place at one time, so we had to prepare these places in a way that maintains social distancing and also to make available the personal protective equipment for these places," Dr. Assiri said.

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