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Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia shuts down 12 mosques, Bahrain suspends all group prayers

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia temporarily shut down 12 mosques after 28 cases of coronavirus infection were detected among worshipers, bringing the total number of mosques that were closed within two days up to 22, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs announced on Tuesday.

The closed mosques will reopen after comprehensive sanitization and implementation of COVID-19 precautionary measures, the ministry said in a statement. Six mosques out of the 22 have been reopened already.

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The ministry stressed the importance of worshippers adhering to coronavirus precautionary measures while performing prayers and attending religious events in mosques, including wearing face masks, bringing their own prayer mats and ensuring physical distancing.

"Heartfelt advise to those who visit houses of God: Do not be a reason for closing mosques. Neglecting precautionary measures implemented by the authorities is a major reason for the spread of coronavirus," said Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh.

Saudi Arabia had suspended in March all Friday prayers and daily prayers in mosques across the Kingdom as a COVID-19 precaution, and reopeneed them in June.

The Kingdom's coronavirus tally stood at 370,987 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 362,062 recovered patients, and 6,410 deaths as of Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health.

Health authorities recently reported a surge in coronavirus cases. The Kingdom’s daily infections had dropped down to double digits at the end of the first week of January before starting an upward trajectory. The Ministry of Health attributed the rise in infections to violations of precautionary measures during social gatherings.

Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq al-Rabiah warned the public against non-compliance to precautionary measures as it might force the authorities to impose a second lockdown across the Kingdom.

Bahrain

Bahrain suspended all prayers and religious events in mosques for two weeks, effective February 11, state news agency BNA reported on Tuesday, citing the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

The ministry said Friday prayers and sermon will continue to be aired live from the Ahmed Al Fateh Islamic Centre, in the presence of a limited number of worshippers.

The move aims to protect the elderly specifically in light of a spike in coronavirus infections.

Bahrain's coronavirus tally stood at 108,807 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 102,289 recovered patients, and 387 deaths as of Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health data.

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