Coronavirus: UAE suspends prayer in all houses of worship including mosques
The United Arab Emirates suspended prayer in all houses of worship including mosques across the country as of Monday evening for four weeks, as part of the country’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency WAM reported.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UAE stood at 98 as of Sunday, according to the ministry of Health.
The government had put in place several measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus including the suspension of issuing visas, stopping flights to a number of countries, closing tourist attractions, theme parks, gyms, bars, pubs, cinemas, banning all establishments from hosting wedding parties, as well as urging the public to avoid gatherings where there are more than 50 people.
Arabian Gulf countries move to lockdown
The UAE's measures are in line with neighboring countries which have moved to contain the spread of coronavirus by limiting human-to-human contact.
In Saudi Arabia, which had reported 133 cases as of Monday, malls and commercial markets excluding pharmacies and food supply stores have been closed. Restaurants have been ordered to serve takeaway only, and barbershops have also been closed. The Kingdom has also stopped all incoming flights for two weeks.
Likewise, Kuwait announced on Saturday it would close shops, malls, and barbershops to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Bahrain, which recorded the first death from coronavirus in the Arabian Gulf on Monday, Oman, and Qatar have all taken similar precautions.
Coronavirus hits religion worldwide
Religious gatherings have been hit by the coronavirus worldwide, as authorities seek to minimize the amount of human contact.
Saudi Arabia suspended the Islamic pilgrimage of Umrah, which Muslims can make at any time to Mecca, earlier this month. Millions of Muslims make Umrah every year, with the decision having a knock-on effect on both pilgrims and travel agents who facilitate their journeys.
The decision comes as religious gatherings have been some of the sites in which coronavirus spreads. In South Korea, the leader of a cult church apologized after his congregation became the center of an outbreak of the virus in the city of Daegu. In Malaysia, authorities reported a jump in the number of cases after 16,000 people attended a religious gathering.
However, the virus may also have other, unpredictable affects on religious practices. According to Dr Steven Davies, pandemics are often associated with an upsurge in millenarian religion, with the idea that the end of the world is imminent, unless we change our wicked ways.