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Saudi Arabia hails successful Hajj health measures amid COVID concerns

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RIYADH, July 22: Saudi Arabia on Thursday hailed the success of health measures in place amid the annual Hajj season, just as pilgrims gathered for the closing ritual known as farewell circumambulation under strict measures to prevent a COVID outbreak. The rigid precautions in place for this year’s Hajj were instrumental in the pilgrimage’s success, state-run SPA news agency cited Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah as saying. These measures, which include limiting attendance to only 60,000 nationals and expatriates living in the kingdom, helped contain virus transmission during the pilgrimage this year, added the minister. Just a day earlier, pilgrims performing the Hajj commenced the three-day stone-throwing ritual from dawn to dusk in what is a once in a lifetime obligation for able-bodies Muslims. (KUNA)

Workers disinfect the grounds as Muslim pilgrims keep social distancing as they circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, during the final ritual of the hajj that pilgrims must perform before they return home, in the holy city of Mecca, saudi Arabia, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The coronavirus has taken its toll on the annual hajj for a second year running. What once drew some 2.5 million Muslims from all walks of life from across the globe, the hajj pilgrimage is now almost unrecognizable in scale. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

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