Manama: Eight months after coronavirus restrictions, pilgrims from foreign countries arrived in Saudi Arabia for the first time to perform Umrah. The third phase of the gradual resumption of Umrah service started on Sunday.

In the third phase, as many as 20,000 Umrah pilgrims including 10,000 international pilgrims and 60,000 worshippers are allowed entry to the Grand Mosque in Makkah on a daily basis. And 19,500 would have permits to visit the Prophet’s Mosque from Sunday.

The first batches of pilgrims from outside the Kingdom, from Pakistan and Indonesia, arrived on Sunday evening.

International pilgrims are allowed to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah for the first time after a hiatus of eight months since the temporary suspension of Umrah due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign pilgrims have to stay in isolation for three days in hotels in Makkah. Up to 3,300 people can perform Umrah at the same time. Each group is being allowed three hours for Umrah.

Umrah visas are issued to those countries based on their rate of corona spread and recovery rates.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set 10 days as the maximum period of stay for foreign pilgrims in the country.

A large number of worshipers, who obtained a permit to perform prayer at the Grand Mosque in the third phase, attended Fajr prayer on Sunday.

Those who have a PCR medical test certificate showing that they are free from coronavirus will be allowed. The test certificate should be issued by a reliable laboratory in their country, not more than 72 hours from the time of taking a sample until the time of departure to the Kingdom.

On October 4, Saudi Arabia resumed Umrah pilgrimage in a phased manner with domestic pilgrims amid strict coronavirus precautions. The second went into effect on October 18, allowing about 40,000 worshippers and 15,000 pilgrims per day into the Grand Mosque.

The number of daily Covid-19 cases in Saudi Arabia has fallen significantly. The number of people on treatment has dropped to 8,000. On Sunday, the country reported 394 new infections and 18 fatalities. So far, 3,47,656 people have been diagnosed with the disease. Of those, 5,420 died and 3,34,236 were recovered.