Photo: A man praying in a mosque in Singapore on Feb 2, 2020. Ashadhodhomei/Shutterstockk

Islamic Lifestyle

Singapore extends mosques closure over fear of large COVID-19 cluster forming from Malaysia religious gathering

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has extended the temporary closure of mosques by nine days as it fears secondary transmission of the COVID-19 from five infected individuals that frequented at least 10 mosques during their infectious period.

Singapore’s mosques were first shuttered on Mar 13 after some congregants tested positive for the virus. They are believed to have caught it at a mass religious event in Kuala Lumpur from Feb 27 to Mar 1. 

MUIS said on Mar 13 that mosques would be closed for at least five days to allow time for disinfection against the COVID-19. They will now remain shut until Mar 26, completing one incubation period to break the cycle of the virus’ transmission.

“Even with the increased pre-emptive measures and temporary closures of our mosques, it is possible for more cases to emerge through secondary transmission, either from close contacts of the five infected individuals, or from among members of the community who had visited the 10 mosques,” said MUIS.

“It is not possible to identify and trace all persons in the second category, as our mosques do not operate on a membership system and lacks a register of exclusive regular congregants. This means contact tracing will not be a sufficient measure to prevent onward transmission of the virus,” added the government statutory board.

Friday prayers on Mar 20 will also be suspended.

MUIS said that once the mosques reopen, it will implement “enhanced measures” to limit the spread of the virus, including conducting mandatory non-contact temperature taking, and requiring congregants to bring their own personal prayer items such as prayer mats.

Mosques will resume the azan, or call to prayer, but they will be adapted to call Muslims to perform prayers at home. This is similar to mosques in Kuwait that changed the line “hayya ala salah”, or “come to prayer”, to “al salatu fi buyutikum”, or “pray in your homes”.

Singapore had 212 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as at Mar 15, according to data from the World Health Organisation. The government on Sunday stepped up precautionary measures by requiring all arrivals into Singapore with recent travel history to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland or the UK to be issued with 14-day stay-home notices.

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