Tens of thousands of vaccinated, socially distanced and masked Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca on Sunday, a small fraction of the usual crowd drawn to the Saudi city for the hajj.
About 60,000 vaccinated Saudi Arabian citizens or residents are allowed to participate in this year’s hajj, the number of which has dropped significantly for the second year in a row. Over the past years, the event has attracted millions of Muslims from all over the world. Hajj is a religious duty required at least once for all adult Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the trip.
The rule changes brought about by the COVD eliminate the ability of people outside Saudi Arabia to fulfill the Islamic obligation and cost the country billions of dollars. The Islamic pilgrimage lasts about five days, but traditionally Muslims start arriving in Mecca weeks in advance. The hajj ends with the celebration of Eid al-Adha, marked by the distribution of meat to the poor around the world.
Also in the news:
►Three lawmakers from the Democratic state of Texas who fled to Washington, DC to prevent the passage of a restrictive GOP-backed voting law have tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, according to the leadership of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.
►More than 100,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday against the government’s latest measures to push people to get vaccinated and to curb the increase in infections with the delta variant of the coronavirus.
►Arizona reported more than 1,000 additional cases of COVID-19 on Saturday for the fourth day in a row as hospitalizations related to the virus continued to increase.
►The UK government still plans to lift all remaining legal restrictions on social contact, as well as other public health measures on Monday, despite the UK having recorded more than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in six months and a terrible warning from the UK government’s top medical adviser.
►The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma announced on Facebook that all visitors to tribal health facilities must wear a mask and place limits on the number of visitors a patient is allowed.
The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 34 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 608,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 190 million cases and over 4 million deaths. Nearly 159 million Americans – 47.9% of the population – have been fully immunized, according to the CDC.
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Alabama hospital sends COVID-19 vaccination team to Peru
A southern Alabama hospital that has vaccinated thousands of people against COVID-19 plans to send a team to do vaccinations in Peru, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. USA Health said more than 20 volunteers will travel to the Cusco area. CerviCusco, a non-governmental agency in Peru, has asked for help, the health system said in a statement. USA Health has provided more than 75,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on the US Gulf Coast, including to mass clinics where more than 2,200 people have been injected daily.
“Our plan is to travel to Peru in mid-August, to establish processes and protocols for safe and efficient vaccine distribution in the region with the aim of delivering 5,000 doses to the people of Peru,” said Natalie Fox, Assistant Administrator and Head Nurse. for the United States Medical Group.
Vaccinees must also hide indoors in Los Angeles and Las Vegas
Health officials at popular tourist destinations like Los Angeles and Las Vegas are asking more people to hide indoors. The Southern Nevada Health District now recommends people wear masks in crowded indoor public places – including Las Vegas casinos – regardless of immunization status. Los Angeles County has also announced it will reinstate an indoor masking policy due to a recent spike in new cases of COVID-19, and more California counties are joining the listing.
The mask guidelines are meant to help quell the spread of COVID and the highly contagious delta variant, which has caused an increase in daily cases in parts of the United States
– Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY
Tokyo 2020 organizers report first case of COVID-19 at Olympic Village
The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee reported the first positive case of COVID-19 in the Olympic Village on Saturday. The unidentified person, who is listed by organizers only as “staff affected by the Games”, was in quarantine at a hotel. Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, told a press conference that he had no information as to whether the person had been vaccinated. And Seiko Hashimoto, chair of the committee, said the organizers were doing everything in their power to ensure that the Olympic Village – like all venues and facilities – was as safe as possible.
The anonymous resident of the Olympic Village is one of 44 people affiliated with the Games who have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 1, according to organizers. Fourteen of those cases were reported on Saturday. Twenty-eight of the 44 positives involved Tokyo 2020 entrepreneurs. Read more.
– Tom Schad, USA TODAY