As Muslims around the world observe their first fast today, there is a growing concern among healthcare institutions and regulatory bodies regarding the religious practices that are associated with Ramadan. World Health Organization (WHO) issued detailed guidelines for observing Ramadan, social gatherings and religious congregations, amid the widespread coronavirus.
WHO Advice for Governments
WHO recommends a strict policy measure with regard to social and religious gatherings and suggests a ‘standardized risk assessment exercise’. Use of virtual alternatives for ‘Taraweeh’ and prayers is suggested such as Television, radio, digital and social media. Religious leaders should be involved in early decision making and a strong communication strategy should be used to make masses understand the logic behind government’s strategy.
Instructions for elders and other high risk groups
WHO strongly suggests against participation of elderly and people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, pregnant women, children, chronic respiratory issues, in any kind of gathering during Ramadan. The risk for catching the coronavirus is higher for these groups of people.
Practice Social Distancing in Ramadan
WHO suggests a physical distance of at least 3 feet between people at all times. Traditional physical contact between Muslims for greetings like handshake, kisses and hugs should be avoided at all cost. Markets, shopping centers if open for Ramadan and Eid, should strictly observe social distancing measures.
Venue for Religious Gathering
In case small religious gatherings for prayers are allowed by governments, the venue should preferably be outdoor as virus spread rapidly in closed environment. Ensure the attendees are tested for basic illness by using infrared thermometers. Also, the venue timings should be limited instead of extended hours of gatherings.
The venues for such gathering should be regularly cleaned, sanitized by using government suggested disinfectants. Objects like door knobs, light switches, stair railings should be disinfected various times during the gathering.
Hygiene and Health of Attendees
Apart from thermometers for checking temperature, WHO suggests placement of sanitizers on entrance and masks to be compulsory for attendees of any gathering. Availability of tissues, wipes and dustbins should be compulsory for management of any gathering. The people attending any religious gathering should bring their own prayer mats for prayers.
Donate with Social distancing measures
WHO recognizes the generous tradition of increased charity and donations by Muslims during the month of Ramadan. To keep the spirit of Ramadan alive, WHO recommends that Muslims around the globe ensure measures of social distancing intact even during process of donations and distribution of food and supplies. To supply food for large number of people, instead of feasts for poor, Muslims should opt for pre-packed meals in boxes or bags for distribution among the needy.
No correlation between Covid-19 and fasting
Since there is no scientific evidence of any ill-effect of fasting on chances of getting Covid-19 therefore, healthy Muslims should fast as they require. However, any Covid-19 patient should consult their doctors for permission regarding keeping a fast.
Healthy eating and lifestyle habits in Ramadan
As recommended earlier by health experts around the globe, fighting with Covid-19 requires physical and mental fitness for a better immunity. WHO suggests maintaining fitness during Ramadan by engaging in indoor physical exercises, healthy diet and good nutrition along with hydration, and avoidance of nicotine and tobacco for healthy lungs. For mental strength, WHO requests special prayers for sick and needy to be performed. WHO suggests Muslims to engage with people through social media and online platforms and understand the reasons for difference in practices of Ramadan this year.
Click here to Download the full 3 page document on Official website of World Health Organization (WHO)