• Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:45 am

Singapore to close mosques to prevent coronavirus spread

  • Published at 08:20 pm March 12th, 2020
Officials spray disinfectants inside a mosque, after Indonesia confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 8, 2020 Reuters

Twelve coronavirus cases linked to Malaysian Islamic conference

Singapore will close all mosques for at least five days for deep cleaning to prevent the spread of coronavirus after two congregants were thought to have been infected during an Islamic conference in neighbouring Malaysia.            

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore said the closures would take effect Friday, and that authorities are trying to track down around 90 Singaporeans who attended the three-day religious event in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore's health ministry said two of nine new cases announced on Thursday were of people who had attended the event, which has also been linked to at least 12 infections in Malaysia.

A number of other religious groups have cancelled physical gatherings in Singapore in recent weeks to try and halt the spread of a virus that has infected 187 people in the city-state.

Twelve coronavirus cases linked to conference

Malaysia's health ministry called on Thursday for mass gatherings to be postponed after at least 12 coronavirus cases were linked to a three-day religious event in the capital attended by some 10,000 people from several countries.

Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which has reported 149 infections of the virus, are tracking about 5,000 citizens who took part in the February 28 to March 1 gathering of Islamic missionaries at a mosque in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

"All mass gatherings should be postponed to minimise the spread of COVID-19," the health ministry said on Twitter, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Eleven of the cases linked to the meeting have cropped up in people in Brunei who attended the meeting – Brunei's first cases of the coronavirus. Some 90 people from Brunei attended.

Brunei's first case was a 53-year-old man who returned from Kuala Lumpur on March 3 and started showing symptoms four days later, its health ministry said.

The twelfth case linked to the Kuala Lumpur meeting is a Malaysian, a health official said.

Singapore said it was investigating and identifying its citizens who attended the Malaysian meeting.

In a bid to stop the spread of the virus, Malaysia's religious affairs minister has issued guidelines for holding Friday prayers at mosques, including shortening sermons and for the wudhu, or ablution rites, to be carried out at home if possible.

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