Saudi Arabia: More mosques shut over COVID-19

Cairo: Saudi religious authorities have closed 10 more mosques due to COVID-19 infections among worshippers, raising the total of such shutdowns in three days to 32 mosques.

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The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs said that the 10 mosques in several parts of the kingdom have been temporarily closed after 15 worshippers tested positive and a muezzin (a caller to the prayer) died due to COVID-19 in the governorate of Wadi Al Dawasir.

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Those mosques are in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina as well as in Arar, Jazan, Al Ihsa and Assir, according to Okaz newspaper.

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The ministry urged worshippers displaying any COVID-19 symptoms not to go to mosque, and undergo testing to make sure they are not infected with the virus.

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Thirteen out of the total 32 mosques earlier closed have reopened after they were sterilized, the ministry said.

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The ministry reminded worshippers of the importance of abiding by anti-virus precautions including the wearing of face masks in mosques, using the personal prayer rugs and observing distancing among themselves.

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Last week, Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdulatif Bin Abdulaziz warned that mosques in the kingdom can be closed again amid concerns over an increase in the novel coronavirus cases.

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Saudi Arabia has recently imposed a set of restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, including a temporary ban on flights from 20 countries.

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Last May, Saudi authorities reopened mosques after a closure of two months to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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As part of the latest Saudi measures to curb the coronavirus cases, in-present lectures in mosques have been suspended and gone online instead, and prayer timings as well as the duration between the Adhan (prayer call) and the start of the prayer have been curtailed.

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The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has urged worshippers to report any laxity in implementing precautionary measures in mosques.

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