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Malaysia’s mosques advised to close as confirmed COVID-19 cases rise

/ 01:36 PM March 16, 2020
Malaysia's mosques advised to close as confirmed COVID-19 cases rise

A man wears a mask during Friday prayers at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 13, 2020. PHOTO from EPA-EFE via The Straits Times/Asia News Network

KUALA LUMPUR — Mosques in Malaysia will be advised to close for 10 days and cease all activities, amid a sharp rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, according to the Islamic head of northern Perlis state based on a meeting of top officials on Sunday.

Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim), a powerful federal agency, will recommend the closure of all mosques for 10 days based on advice from the Health Ministry, Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said on Monday (March 16) in a posting on his Instagram account.

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He said mosques will be advised to cease all activities including mass prayers and Friday prayers during this time.

Datuk Mohd Asri said that the decision was made following a special meeting on Sunday night but added that there will be an official announcement on the matter.

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Matters of religion are under the purview of each of Malaysia’s 13 states, with nine of these headed by Malay rulers who must be consulted before such decisions are made.

Malaysia recorded its highest-ever single-day jump in coronavirus cases on Sunday, with 190 confirmed new patients, resulting in a total tally of 428 coronavirus patients.

The bulk of the new cases on Sunday are linked to the mass religious gathering by the Tabligh group, attended by some 16,000 people from Feb 27 to March 1, which included Singaporeans and Brunei nationals.

As of Saturday, nearly 5,000 attendees had been identified.

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TAGS: Asia, Coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, Malaysia, Mosques, Religion, Thailand
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