Muslims warned to exercise caution on Eid
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Durban - As Muslims worldwide prepare for Eid-ul-Fitr later this week, local medical doctors and faith leaders are appealing to those celebrating to protect themselves and their loved ones.
They are asking the community to exercise caution, avoid pre-Eid shopping among crowds, big social gatherings and large prayers.
Dr Shoyab Wadee, vice-president of the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa said people need to be responsible in terms of social distancing, wearing of masks, sanitising and avoiding large gatherings.
"There should be no hugging. While we know the Eid prayer is compulsory, we are asking people to have multiple prayers with smaller groups in outdoor arenas.
"Families getting together also need to restrict their numbers,“ said Wadee.
He said it was always likely that the Covid-19 numbers would increase at some stage.
"The virus has not gone from the community. We are seeing numbers are starting to increase again. We don't have sufficient evidence that we are specially protected," said Wadee.
Among the guidelines set out by the association is that those travelling from abroad must Isolate for 10 days, especially when exposed to travellers from India.
Dr Faisal Suliman, chairperson of the South African Muslim Network said prayers should definitely be held outdoors.
"People should use their own prayer mats, sanitise and social distance. We are suggesting numerous small gatherings than the traditional large gathering," said Suliman.
He said the numbers were clearly increasing.
"We are urging people to be cautious and follow normal protocols," he said.
Suliman said they were asking people who are sick or have arrived from anywhere overseas, especially red line countries like India and Brazil to stay away.
"Anyone with cold-like symptoms or flu to also stay away," he said.
Yusuf Patel, secretary-general of the United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) said the day of Eid begins with a special prayer that is generally performed in an open-air venue with large numbers of congregants.
"However, due to Covid-19 many venues have either cancelled mass open-air venues or have restricted their numbers to 500 people as per governmental regulations. Multiple indoor venues have been arranged to accommodate the number of congregants.
"Congregants are advised to disperse immediately after the prayers in a manner that will minimise close physical contact. They have also been advised to avoid handshaking and hugging which is generally characteristic for the day of Eid.
“Observing protocols while meeting friends and family however remains a huge challenge as people tend to let their guard down in family gatherings," said Patel.