16 MARCH 2020
1. On 13 Mar 2020, Muis announced that all mosques in Singapore will be closed for at least five days, and all activities suspended for 14 days, following the discovery of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a large religious gathering in Malaysia.
2. Subsequent contact tracing by the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that the five infected individuals frequented at least 10 mosques during their infectious period. Muis has shared the list of the 10 affected mosques on 14 March 2020 and advised members of the public who may have visited those mosques to monitor their health. Meanwhile, Muis is actively assisting MOH in their efforts to continue contact tracing, to establish any links to other mosques or individuals, to further limit the spread of the virus.
3. Even with the increased pre-emptive measures and temporary closures of our mosques, it is possible for more cases to emerge through secondary transmission, either from close contacts of the five infected individuals, or from among members of the community who had visited the 10 mosques. It is not possible to identify and trace all persons in the second category, as our mosques do not operate on a membership system and lacks a register of exclusive regular congregants. This means contact tracing will not be a sufficient measure to prevent onward transmission of the virus.
4. As such, Muis in consultation with MOH is of the view that the risk of a large cluster forming from the participants of the large religious gathering in Malaysia continues to be real. The religious justification to close the mosque and suspend Friday prayers, in the form of the fatwa issued by the Fatwa Committee, still applies. In light of this, Muis accepts MOH’s recommendation to extend the closure of our mosques for another nine days until 26 March 2020, completing one incubation period to break the cycle of transmission. This also means Friday prayers on 20 March 2020 will be suspended.
5. Upon reopening of mosques, Muis will implement enhanced measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. This will consist of:
a. Conducting mandatory non-contact temperature taking of all congregants, those who are unwell will be turned away.
b. Requiring congregants to bring their own personal prayer items i.e. sejadah (prayer mats) for all and telekung for ladies.
c. Conducting physical checks to identify at-risk congregants and to turn away congregants who are unwell.
d. Institutionalising full contact tracing regimen for all congregants entering mosques.
e. Not having handshakes at the end of prayers or engage in any physical greetings among congregants.
6. Meanwhile, in meeting the community’s spiritual needs, mosques will resume the azan (call to prayer), which will be adapted with a call to the community to perform prayers at home. The Office of the Mufti will also work with mosques to produce more Islamic learning and talks via on-line content.
7. Muis seeks the community’s continued support and cooperation to reduce secondary transmission. We urge the community to internalise the following behavioural norms:
a. Maintaining personal hygiene (e.g. bring your own sejadah, washing hands).
b. Practice social responsibility (keep our toilets dry, stay at home if unwell, take ablution (wudhu) before coming to the mosque).
c. Adjusting social norms for social distancing (avoid handshakes and communal eating).
8. Working together with the mosques, the community can ensure that Muslim religious life can continue with the necessary adjustments. This is the best way to prevent large clusters from developing and spreading beyond the community.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA