WHO releases guidelines for Ramadan practices in context of COVID-19; advises virtual prayer meets

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New Delhi: World Health Organisation has released guidelines for Ramadan practices in the context of COVID-19 and advised social distancing and virtual prayer meets.

It said cancelling social and religious gatherings should be seriously considered and recommended that decision to restrict, modify, postpone, cancel or proceed with holding a mass gathering should be based on a standardised risk assessment exercise.

If cancelling social and religious gatherings, WHO said virtual alternatives using platforms such as television, radio, digital and social media can be used instead, where possible. It said religious leaders should be involved early in decision making, so that they can be actively engaged in communicating any decision affecting events connected with Ramadan.

WHO has advised people to practise physical distancing by maintaining a distance of at least one metre at all times. It has urged those unwell or having symptoms of COVID-19 to avoid attending events. It has urged older people and those with pre existing medical conditions to not attend gatherings, as they are vulnerable.

Any gathering occuring due to Ramadan must preferably be held outdoors and the length of such event must be shortened to limit exposure. It also stressed on maintaining proper hygiene and hand washing frequently. It said premises of mosques should be kept clean and arrangements should be made so that people can clean their hands.

WHO also called for maintaining physical distancing while doing charity and distributing sadaqat or zakah during Ramadan. It has asked people to consider using pre packed boxes to avoid crowded gatherings associated with iftar banquets.

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