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Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia set to reopen mosques in Mecca on Sunday

Move comes despite notable increase in coronavirus cases in recent days
Muslim worshippers walk around the sacred Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, during the Covid-19 pandemic (AFP)

Saudi Arabia is set to reopen mosques in Mecca on Sunday, following a three month closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes despite a notable increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country in recent days.

The kingdom had previously taken restrictive measures against the virus, particularly in Mecca.

"The mosques in the holy city will begin to reopen their doors to the faithful on Sunday after three months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic," the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel reported, citing a decision by the Islamic affairs ministry.

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Some 1,500 holy sites are preparing to welcome visitors, the channel reported, showing footage of workers disinfecting floors and carpets.

The decision comes weeks before the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. 

While the Hajj is set to be held in late July, authorities are yet to announce if it will go ahead or be cancelled.

Outside Mecca, mosques elsewhere in the country reopened at the end of May, but with strict rules imposing social distancing and other measures.

The hardest hit Gulf state, Saudi Arabia has reported over 150,000 virus cases, including nearly 1,200 deaths.

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