Religious communities in Singapore have indefinitely suspended mass gatherings as a precautionary measure amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to Channel News Asia, the Catholic Church in Singapore on Thursday (March 12) announced that it would carry on its indefinite suspension of mass as a counter-measure against the Covid-19 outbreak, which has officially been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
Archbishop of Singapore, Reverend William Goh, disclosed in a letter that the Church was taking extra precautions due to the concentration of people in a contained space when having mass. “We are not helping the situation if we resume Masses at this time, simply because of the sheer numbers of Catholics packing in each service, and their fluidity in moving from one parish to another,” he said. He also took into consideration the age of a percentage of its community, noting their vulnerability to the virus, as pointed out by statistics. “Furthermore, a large percentage of our parishioners belong to a vulnerable group – seniors with lower immunity,” he explained.
The Catholic Church’s suspension of mass was first implemented on February 14. Though the gatherings were expected to resume on March 14 and 15 after all the appropriate measures were put in place, given the declared pandemic as well as the surfacing of the SAFRA Jurong cluster, which is Singapore’s largest so far, the institution has decided that mass would still be put on hold.
Aside from the Catholic institution, the Singaporean Islamic community has also suspended its gatherings amid the outbreak.
According to straitstimes.com, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Thursday (March 12) announced that all 70 mosques would be closed for five days beginning Friday (March 13) where there will be no prayer gathering. During the five-day period, sanitation procedures will be held.
The announcement followed the news that a Singaporean who had recently attended a large religious gathering in Malaysia had gone to four identified mosques in Singapore since his return. These mosques were identified to be the Jamae Chulia mosque on South Bridge Road, Al Muttaqin mosque on Ang Mo Kio, Hajjah Fatimah mosque on Beach Road, and Kassim mosque on Changi Road.
Like the Catholic community, the Islamic community in Singapore has also implemented this measure with the consideration especially of the demographics of its community.
Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs said in a press conference on Thursday (March 12), “We need to protect ourselves, our community and our loved ones. And more so knowing the impact, the effects of Covid-19 on the seniors and the elderly. As we know, many of the people who come to the mosque are retired, senior people, and therefore we think it’s important to – for the moment – prevent such big congregations in our mosques.” Mr Masagos also clarified that all mosque activities including classes are suspended until March 27.
The Independent has reached out to the Hindu Endowments Board as well as to the Singapore Buddhist Federation, in inquiry of what specific measures they have put in place to counter the outbreak.