PUTRAJAYA: The COVID-19 situation in Malaysia is under control and there is no requirement for Friday prayers to be suspended, said religious affairs minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri on Thursday (Mar 12).
He said that Friday prayers, which are obligatory for all Muslim males, should proceed with some adjustments, such as shortening the sermon.
“Members of the congregation are also advised to make ablutions at home and wear face masks, while the mosque committees are to provide hand sanitisers as part of preventive measures.
“Those showing symptoms of COVID-19, however, need not attend the prayers, as they are categorised as those who are sick,” Dr Zulkifli said during a press conference.
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Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department added that Friday prayers could only be cancelled and replaced by Zohor prayers in a situation where the pandemic spreads uncontrollably in the country.
To avoid any confusion, Dr Zulkifli said guidelines on the matter would be issued by the Prime Minister’s Department soon.
On Wednesday, the Malaysian Health Ministry said efforts are being made to track around 5,000 people in the country believed to have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus at a religious event in the outskirts of the Kuala Lumpur.
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Penang Mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor, among others, has reportedly called for a temporary suspension of congregational prayers and Friday prayers.
Based on preliminary information, the religious event involved an estimated 10,000 people from several countries including Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. Twelve cases have so far been linked to the event.
Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on Thursday that the Ministry of Health is in the midst of identifying and investigating the Singaporean attendees.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Thursday that the Prime Minister’s Department is preparing a paper on Friday prayers and religious activities following the spread of COVID-19.
In a Facebook post, Dr Noor Hisham said a joint discussion was held last week for preparations to curb the transmission of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
The paper covers a guide for handshakes, wedding feasts and funeral management.
Earlier on Thursday, Dr Noor Hisham said that all mass gatherings should be postponed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said this includes religious events and gatherings.
More than 140 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Malaysia.