Saudi Arabia records highest daily coronavirus increase, closes dozens of mosques
The Gulf state confirmed 3,369 new Covid-19 cases over a 24-hour period - the highest daily increase since the outbreak in early March, according to Arabi21.
The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs has closed 71 mosques in various regions after infections surged among worshippers, according to a tweet by the ministry.
The mosques will be sterilised before receiving worshippers again, the government body said.
Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdullatif Al-Sheikh reportedly attributed the closure of mosques to the lack of compliance with preventive protocols adopted by the places of worship.
"This non-compliance resulted in coronavirus infections within some mosques. The mosques that were closed as a precautionary measure are currently being sterilised," Sheikh was quoted as saying.
The ministry has reportedly received over a thousand inquiries related to the implementation of health measures within mosques, as well as violations.
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The total number of infections surpassed 105,000 in Saudi by Tuesday, making Saudi the epicentre of the outbreak in the Gulf, after the kingdom saw a spike in cases while easing lockdown measures.
The new surge came just weeks before the start of the Hajj, which normally brings some 2.5 million pilgrims to Mecca and Medina every year.
According to media reports, Riyadh is planning to limit the number of Hajj Pilgrims participating this year, allowing only 20 percent of former numbers to participate over Covid-19 fears. The yearly pilgrimage generates a $12 billion profit for Saudi.