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The New Arab Staff

Saudi Arabia announces 38 new coronavirus deaths amid fears of a second wave

Coronavirus continues in the kingdom [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 June, 2020

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The kingdom has reopened 90,000 mosques across the country despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia announced 38 more deaths from coronavirus, and 3,733 new cases of the disease despite easing lockdown restrictions.

Over one third of new cases were reported in Riyadh, as the capital city recorded some 1,431 cases, whilst Jeddah recorded 294 new cases, Mecca recorded 293, Dammam 214 and Hufof 206.

This comes as the health ministry said more than 2,065 people had recovered from Covid-19.

A total of 857 people have died from the virus in the kingdom so far.

The ministry of Islamic affairs, call and guidance has brought forward the re-opening of mosques for Friday prayers for all parts of the kingdom apart from Mecca and Jeddah, where the outbreak remains prominent.

With the directive, all mosques in the kingdom will open 40 minutes before the call for Friday prayer, in an effort to prevent overcrowding.

Easing lockdown measures

Some 90,000 mosques in Saudi Arabia have been reopened in the past week, with government officials advising that prayer rugs, washrooms and shelves be sanitised before use.

The Grand Mosque in Mecca, which is where those who embark on the holy pilgrimage of Hajj pray, will remain closed to the public. Al-Masjid An-Nawabi in Medina, which is another site of holy pilgrimage, will be partially opened to the public to pray outside.

The ministry of Islamic affairs sent text messages to millions of people in multiple languages to inform them about new rules for public prayer.

This includes keeping a two metre distance from one another, wearing face masks at all times and abstaining from intimate greetings, such as handshakes or hugs.

Children under the age of 15 will not be allowed inside mosques, and the elderly and those with chronic conditions have been instructed to pray at home.

Another directive is to perform mandatory ablution – washing oneself before prayer – at home, and to bring their own prayer rugs and copies of the Quran.

Mosques will open 15 minutes before each of the five daily prayers and close 10 minutes after they end.

Friday prayers will last no more than 15 minutes.

Despite such restrictions, experts fear coronavirus could still spread.


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