Two S’poreans who attended Tabligh gathering in Malaysia confirmed to have COVID-19

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Two Singaporeans have contracted COVID-19 after attending a religious event near Kuala Lumpur, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli confirmed yesterday.

Masagos also announced that the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) will close all mosques for at least five days from Friday for cleaning, to prevent community spread through mosque activities. Brunei and Malaysia authorities have also confirmed that some of their nationals who attended the February 27 to March 1 event, which reportedly attracted 10,000 people, have contracted the disease.

Masagos said 82 Singaporeans are confirmed to have attended the Jhor Qudamak Malaysia 2020 event at the Seri Petaling Mosque in Selangor, although this number could rise as more information comes in.

The closure of mosques means that the obligatory Friday prayers for Muslim males will be suspended, with Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir explaining that these circumstances mean it is religiously allowed for them to conduct the usual daily prayers at home instead.

Mosques will also cancel all activities, lectures, religious classes and mosque-based kindergartens for two weeks, from tomorrow to March 27. “This two-week period will allow more time for us to really break the cycle of transmission,” MUIS Chief Executive Esa Masood said. “We will continue to watch the situation and monitor the numbers from these cases that MoH is doing contact tracing.

“If the need arises to extend the period of closure, we will then adjust accordingly.”

Esa said MUIS will assess over the next few days additional measures mosques need to take before it allows them to re-open.

According to Esa, whether the mosques re-open after five days will depend on the confirmed cases that come out of the 82 who attended the event in Malaysia and developments in other countries that also had citizens who attended the event.

“Should the numbers go up, or beyond the two (confirmed cases) there is a sizeable cluster, those are good justifications to then consider an extension,” he said.

Masagos had earlier written in a Facebook post yesterday that MOH was working to identify the Singaporeans who attended the religious event in Malaysia.

MUIS has also advised congregants who feel unwell to stay home instead of attending the Friday prayers at mosques, stating that it is religiously allowed to do so.