KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday announced a ban on congregational prayers, starting March 27, after the province’s coronavirus tally crossed over 400.
The announcement was made by Sindh information minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah. “Only three to five persons will be allowed to offer prayers in mosques,” he said, adding that the ban will continue till April 5.
Friday prayers have also been halted, Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister on Law Murtaza Wahab said, adding that the provincial government had consulted with Ulema from all sects.
The decision has been made to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Wahab said that the mosques would remain open, but only the staff and not more than five people could pray inside.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has hit 1,138 after more people tested positive in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Islamabad Capital Territory, and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Globally, 200 countries have been affected, more than 21,000 people have died and more than 470,000 infected by the disease as it spreads rapidly to new territories.
The decision comes a few hours after Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri announced that the government had decided to ‘restrain’ congregational prayers in mosques across the country.
“It has been decided with consensus that Friday prayers will be ‘restrained’,” Qadri said during a news conference. “Only mosques’ administration staff and a limited number of worshippers will be allowed to pray inside mosques,” he added.
He clarified that mosques will not be closed but prayers and zikr will continue inside them. Dr Qadri said that the decision had been taken in consultation with Ulema belonging to various schools of thought.
“Ulema have been told to tell people to pray inside their homes,” he said. “It is not only the job of the government to control coronavirus but also of the people.”
The minister said that various programmes, classes and examinations across various madressahs in Pakistan had been postponed in light of the outbreak.