Saudi Arabia Races To Contain Epidemic In Islam’s Holiest City
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Saudi authorities are racing to contain an outbreak of coronavirus in the Islamic holy city of Mecca, where crowded slums and labor camps have accelerated the spread even with much of the country under a 24-hour curfew.
The total number of coronavirus cases reported in Mecca, home to 2 million people, reached 1,050 on Monday compared to 1,422 in the capital of Riyadh, a city more than three times the size. Mecca’s large number of undocumented immigrants and cramped housing for migrant workers have made it more difficult to slow the infection rate.
In late March, after five Mecca-based employees ofSaudi Binladin Group, one of the kingdom’s biggest construction companies tested positive, authorities locked down housing for 8,000 laborers and suspended work on the expansion of the grand mosque, Islam’s holiest site, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. Some workers were placed in hotel quarantine, the document showed. The company did not respond to a request for comment. It was unclear if the camp remained in lockdown.
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