With Ramadan just around the corner, Saudi Arabia's highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, have asked Muslims worldwide to pray at home. Amid the unprecedented outbreak of deadly Coronavirus, most countries have imposed restrictions to curb the further spread and urge people to practice social distancing.
The Saudi state media reported, that for the holy fast of Muslims, that will begin later this week, believers usually break their fast with families and friends and perform an evening prayer, known as Taraweeh, among gatherings at Mosques.
According to reports, the official statement by the governing body had said that “Muslims shall avoid gatherings”. The statement further added that people “shall remember that preserving the lives of people is a great act that brings them closer to God”. As of April 19, Saudi Arabia has reported at least 8,274 confirmed cases of Coronavirus with at least 92 fatalities.
However, critics believe that the people who have contracted the COVID-19 disease, are way higher. That Saudi government had announced halting of five daily prayers along with weekly prayers on Friday inside mosques as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, Saudi authorities are still struggling to contain the COVID-19 spread in the Islamic holy city of Mecca. While the global infection rate of the pandemic has reached 2.3 million, Saudi Arabia reportedly recorded at least 1,050 cases of Coronavirus infections earlier this week in Mecca, that is home to over 2 million people.
The infection rate in Mecca surpassed that of the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, which remained at 1,422. According to international reports, the authorities are unable to contain the COVID-19 spread in Mecca due to the huge number of undocumented immigrants and migrant workers who are living in congested areas.
Just last month, the Saudi authorities had locked down the houses of over 8,000 labourers, suspended their work of expanding Islam’s holiest site. This was after five employers from one of the biggest construction companies in the country, the Mecca-based Saudi Binladin Group, tested positive for the deadly virus.
Many workers are now reportedly quarantined in a hotel, according to a document seen by an international media outlet. Most of Saudi Arabia has also been placed under a 24-hour curfew including mecca and Medina.