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Friday prayers suspended for second consecutive week, as Muis extends mosque closures till March 26

SINGAPORE — The closure of mosques across Singapore will be extended for nine days until March 26, as authorities believe that there is a real risk of a large cluster forming from the participants of a recent religious gathering in Malaysia.

Friday prayers suspended for second consecutive week, as Muis extends mosque closures till March 26

Even when mosques are reopened on March 27, 2020, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore said that there will be major changes implemented to limit the spread of Covid-19.

SINGAPORE — The closure of mosques across Singapore will be extended for nine days until March 26, as authorities believe that there is a real risk of a large cluster forming from the participants of a recent religious gathering in Malaysia.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said on Monday (March 16) that this means Friday prayers will be cancelled again this week.

And even when mosques are reopened, Muis said there will be major changes implemented to limit the spread of Covid-19.

For example, congregants must bring their own personal prayer items such as prayer mats and there will be no more handshakes among congregants at the end of prayers — a customary ritual.

Last Thursday, Muis had announced a five-day closure of all mosques islandwide from March 13, as well as the suspension of all mosque activities for 14 days, after a few participants of the gathering in Kuala Lumpur tested positive for Covid-19 upon their return to Singapore.

Contact tracing by the Ministry of Health (MOH) found that the five patients had frequented at least 10 mosques while they were infectious.

Muis said it is assisting MOH in the efforts to continue contact tracing, to establish links to other mosques or individuals, to further limit the spread of the virus.

But even so, Muis pointed out that contact tracing will not be a sufficient measure to prevent further transmission of the virus, given the practice among Muslims of visiting different mosques.

“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,” Muis said in a statement.

It is not possible to identify and trace everyone in the second category, as Singapore’s mosques do not operate on a membership system and lack a register of exclusive regular congregants, it added.

“As such, Muis in consultation with MOH is of the view that the risk of a large cluster forming from the participants of the large religious gathering in Malaysia continues to be real.”

The closure of mosques until March 26 completes one incubation period to break the cycle of transmission, Muis noted.

Upon the reopening of mosques, Muis will implement enhanced measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. These are:

  • Conducting mandatory temperature-taking of all congregants, while those who are unwell will be turned away.

  • Requiring congregants to bring their own personal prayer items, such as prayer mats for all and the “telekung”, a prayer garment, for ladies.

  • Conducting physical checks to identify at-risk congregants and turn away those who are unwell.

  • Institutionalising full contact tracing regimen for all congregants entering mosques.

  • Not having handshakes at the end of prayers or engaging in any physical greetings among congregants.

Meanwhile, mosques will resume the azan, or call to prayer, from dawn on Tuesday, but it will be adapted with a call to the community to perform prayers at home.

The Office of the Mufti, the top religious Muslim authority, will work with mosques to produce educational Islamic content for worshippers to consume online.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus Wuhan virus mosques Muis

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