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Saudi Arabia installs self-sterilisation gates to keep coronavirus out of Mecca, Medina Open in fullscreen

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Saudi Arabia installs self-sterilisation gates to keep coronavirus out of Mecca, Medina

Saudi Arabia has installed self-sterilisation gates [Twitter@ReasahAlharmain]

Date of publication: 7 May, 2020

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Saudi Arabia has installed self-sterilisation gates at the entrances of Islam's two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.
Saudi Arabia has installed self-sterilisation gates in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Saudi government announced Thursday.

The conservative kingdom has installed the gates at the entrances to the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.

The sterilisation gates spray worshippers with antiseptic and are also equipped with thermal cameras able to detect temperatures from a distance of six metres.

Saudi Arabia partially eased a 24-hour curfew in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic at the end of April.

But a round-the-clock lockdown was maintained in some areas including Mecca, which has reported the kingdom's highest number of infections in recent days despite being sealed off. 

The self-sterilisation gates are the latest in a series of measures taken by the kingdom to stop the spread of the virus. 

Saudi Arabia had already installed thermal cameras, instituted social distancing and suspended communal prayers.

The nightly prayers performed during the holy month of Ramadan, known as Tarawih, held at the Grand Mosque and Prophet's Mosque have also been closed to the public. 

Mecca's Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, is normally filled to the brim with worshippers - especially during Ramadan.

But this year, images of the Kaabah show only a handful of worshippers praying at a distance from one another.

WATCH: Saudi cleric cries during Ramadan's first 'socially-distanced' Taraweeh prayers in Mecca

Last month, Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage over fears of the novel coronavirus spreading to Islam's holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, which were placed under 24-hour curfews.

Authorities are yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year's Hajj pilgrimage, scheduled for the end of July, but they have urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia has confirmed 33,731 cases of coronavirus infection, with over 219 resulting deaths, while the virus has infected at least 3.7 million globally.

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