SINGAPORE: Singapore’s health ministry is working to identify 95 Singaporeans who attended a three-day religious event on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur last month, after Brunei reported that its first case of COVID-19 had attended the same event.
The Jhor Qudamak Malaysia 2020 event took place between Feb 28 and Mar 1 at the Seri Petaling Mosque in Selangor.
Malaysia’s health ministry has estimated that 10,000 people from several countries attended the event.
The 95 Singaporeans were among more than 1,500 foreign attendees, which included almost 700 Indonesians and more than 200 Filipinos, Malaysian media reported.
“I am concerned to hear that there were several COVID-19 cases confirmed, arising from a mass religious gathering in Malaysia,” Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Mar 12).
“It was reported that 95 Singaporeans had attended the event. Ministry of Health, Singapore is in the midst of investigating and identifying the Singaporean attendees.”
Malaysia called on Thursday for mass gatherings to be postponed after at least 12 COVI-19 cases were linked to the gathering of Islamic missionaries.
Eleven of the cases linked to the meeting have cropped up in people in Brunei who attended the meeting. The 12th case linked to the Kuala Lumpur meeting is a Malaysian, a health official said.
Malaysian authorities are also tracking about 5,000 of its citizens who took part in the event.
Brunei’s first case was a 53-year-old man who returned from Kuala Lumpur on Mar 3 and started showing symptoms four days later, its health ministry said.
Malaysia reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing its total to 149.
“If you were there, please get yourselves checked up by a doctor – protect your loved ones and those around you,” Mr Masagos wrote.
“For those who are unwell, please seek medical attention immediately.”
The minister said that the local Muslim community has taken “much effort” to adjust its religious practices during this challenging period, stating that people in Singapore must be vigilant when carrying out religious practices.
“For example, many are refraining from our usual handshake or ‘salam’ and instead are adopting what I call the ‘Mufti Salam’, where one places his hand on his chest to convey his greetings,” he added.
“Many are also bringing their own personal prayer mats and paraphernalia to the mosque.”
Mr Masagos, who is also Environment and Water Resources Minister, said that cleanliness and hygiene is Singapore’s first line of defence against COVID-19 pandemic, and reiterated the importance of using tissues when sneezing or coughing and not attending social gatherings when unwell.
“Let us continue to exercise social responsibility, be vigilant,” he wrote. “Together, we can overcome this challenge.”
CNA has asked MOH for comment.