With just two days to the start of the 30-day fasting month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued guidelines in a ‘Safe Ramadan Advisory’ which include social distancing practices and virtual religious meets, keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed more than 1.5 lakh lives globally.
In its guidelines titled “Safe Ramadan practices in the context of the COVID-19”, the WHO has stated that cancelling social and religious activities is a must to mitigate the impact on public health.
The WHO guidelines advise Muslims all over the world to:
- Follow a standardised risk assessment exercise while taking a decision to either modify or cancel or proceed with holding a mass gathering.
- Avoid physical contact. Use culturally and religiously sanctioned greetings that avoid physical contact, such as waving, nodding, or placing the hand over the heart.
- Maintain safe physical distance even when offering ‘zakah’, or charity, to the needy.
- Serve packed food while maintaining safe (3 feet or 1 metre) distance, instead of organising ‘iftar’ banquets.
- Take extra precautions and avoid attending any gathering whatsoever if you are old or unwell.
- Avoid all events or gatherings if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension/diabetes.
- Adopt virtual alternatives, for example, mediums such as television, radio or the internet, instead of mass gatherings.
- Ensure proper physical hygiene such as hand washing – both inside and outside mosques, covered dustbins at venues to ensure safe disposal of tissues; regular cleaning of mosques and premises; and regular sanitisation of frequently touched objects such as light switches or staircase railings.
- Follow a healthy diet and keep yourself hydrated at all times and eat fresh food items during the fasting period.