limiting number of pilgrims reduces COVID-19 spread to less than 3%: Study

limiting number of pilgrims reduces COVID-19 spread to less than 3%: Study

Makkah (UNA-OIC) – Limiting the number of pilgrims during the Hajj season 1442 AH to 60,000 contributes to curbing coronavirus and reducing its spread to less than 3%, which preserves the safety of the pilgrims, according to a scientific study prepared by a global research team, headed by Umm Al-Qura University Vice Dean for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Dr. Ali Al-Shaeri.

The study concluded that the total capacity allowed by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for crowds, and raising the precautionary measures to the highest level are closely related to limiting the spread of the COVID-19 infections.

The study focused on the use of artificial intelligence concepts that include modeling and simulating the Hajj rituals with the possible spread of COVID-19 and evaluating the impact of control measures and preventive measures on the development of infections in Hajj, within the framework of serving the Grand Mosque and organizing crowd management in the rituals of Hajj and Umrah, in line with technical development in dealing with the virus spread developments.

The research team, consisting of researchers from Umm Al-Qura University, the UAE University, Ohio University, and the Indian Institute of Science, worked on studying a real-time mechanism to follow up crowd management and early warning of dangers by simulating reality, by developing predictive simulation models in various cases of Tawaf (circumambulation) and Jamarat (stoning of the devil) rituals, taking into account the spatial restrictions and smooth crowd movement as well as the preventive measures represented in examining the symptoms of infection with the application of social distancing and wearing face masks, to assess the impact of precautionary measures on the rate of infection spread, and to assist in making decisions to reduce it.

Al-Shaeri stated that the study is evaluating risk situations that negatively affect the safety of crowds; using an indicator based on a simulation model to predict potential risks and inform decision-makers of them before they occur at an early date. This will contribute to finding logical solutions to raise the efficiency of crowd management and improve services provided during the Hajj and Umrah seasons, from which the objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision are achieved in reaching 30 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims every year, within the program for serving Al-Rahman Guests.

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