Council of Islamic Ideology endorses suspension of congregational prayer

In this file photo, worshippers offer Friday prayers at a mosque during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Karachi on March 27, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 03 April 2020

Council of Islamic Ideology endorses suspension of congregational prayer

  • The government has repeatedly urged people to pray at home and temporarily avoid religious congregations such as the Friday prayers
  • According to official statistics, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan are now close to 2,500

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Thursday endorsed the government's decision to suspend congregational prayer of more than five people to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the country.
After holding an emergency meeting in Islamabad to review the situation created by the global pandemic, the council chairman, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, addressed a news briefing wherein he highlighted the sanctity of human life in Islam.

The government has repeatedly urged people to pray at home and temporarily avoid religious congregations, such as the Friday prayers, after the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. According to official statistics, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan are now close to 2,500 with 136 recoveries and 35 fatalities.
According to an official handout circulated by the council that works as a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic matters to the government, the CII head noted that it was not right to consider that mosques had been shut down.
However, he added that the government's decision to limit the number of worshippers must be honored by people under the existing circumstances.
He also urged the administration not to treat religious clerics harshly and seek their assistance on the matter.
The council chairman noted that COVID-19 was not spread by any sect or group, and it was not right to blame the pilgrims or members of the Muslim missionary movement for the outbreak.
He said that the victims of the virus should be buried in accordance with their religious beliefs, adding that the bodies should be washed with precautionary care and the relatives of the deceased individuals should be allowed to participate in the funeral prayers.
Ayaz also noted that those who lose their lives to the infectious respiratory disease should be called martyrs and buried with respect.
The council chairman emphasized it was important to help minority religious communities in Pakistan, urging devout individuals with financial means to use their money set aside for religious rituals and activities to help people facing economic hardships.
He also noted that mosques should act like community centers to assist the unemployed and needy.


Pakistan’s virus tally tops China’s as doctors warn of health crisis

Updated 30 min 9 sec ago

Pakistan’s virus tally tops China’s as doctors warn of health crisis

  • People should not get scared of the surge in COVID-19 cases, insists the national health ministry
  • If rising trend of cases is not contained, health system may crumble, warns the Pakistan Medical Association

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s coronavirus infections have surpassed neighboring China as the national tally on Thursday reached 85,264 while doctors warned the government of a health crisis in the coming days if appropriate measures were not taken to flatten the curve.
China, where the virus emerged in December last year, has recorded 84,160 cases to date, according to the John Hopkins University. Pakistan’s death toll has reached 1,770 since February 26, when the country reported its first COVID-19 case, which is still considerably less than China where 4,638 deaths have so far been reported.
“People should not get scared by the surge in the number of cases. It’s a pandemic and we need to deal with it wisely and courageously,” Sajid Hussain Shah, spokesperson at the Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations, told Arab News on Thursday.
A total of 4,688 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours with 82 deaths, the highest single-day rise ever, landing the country at the 17th spot in terms of the coronavirus cases, the health ministry’s data showed.
The country has also enhanced its daily testing capacity to over 20,000 and so far conducted 615,511 tests.
The spike in the COVID-19 cases was witnessed immediately after the government eased the lockdown restrictions in mid-May, contrary to the recommendation of doctors and experts who advocated their extension to stem the spread of the virus.
Previously, the government had decided to shut down public places, transportation sector and markets on March 23. Now the authorities are blaming the people for not adhering to social distancing regulations and other precautions, pointing out that the negligence of the public has led to the growing outbreak.
“We have witnessed a spike in the cases after people violated the government’s prescribed precautionary measures,” Dr. Zaeem Zia, district health officer in Islamabad, told Arab News on Thursday.
The country’s federal capital has reported 3,544 positive coronavirus cases with 38 deaths and 5,680 tests so far.
“We are diligently working on contact tracing and surveillance in the high-risk population areas to contain the virus,” Zia said. “We are also ensuring smart lockdown in the areas where COVID-19 cases are reported to prevent its further spread.”
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), a professional organization of working doctors in the country, has blamed the government for the surge in the cases due to its “non-coherent and confusing policy” to deal with the disease.
“The government has failed to adopt a uniform policy on dealing with the virus from day one, so the result [the surge in the cases] is quite obvious,” Dr. Qaisar Sajjad, PMA secretary general, told Arab News.
He warned that the country’s health facilities had reached the brink of collapse with the sharp growth in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. “If the rising trend of the coronavirus cases is not contained or reversed, the health facilities may crumble in the coming days,” he said.
Another PMA worry relates to the increasing number of infections to doctors and paramedics working to treat the patients. At least 30 health care practitioners, including 26 doctors and four nurses, have died to date due to the virus while more than 2,100 have been infected so far, according to the PMA.
“Many private and public hospitals have already started refusing to admit coronavirus patients with ventilators and beds getting short in the medical facilities,” he said while urging the government to quell propaganda on social media that “coronavirus does not exist in Pakistan.”
There are 746 hospitals with COVID-19 facilities and 4,918 patients admitted in them across the country, according to the official data.
“We have been further extending our health facilities to deal with the pressure,” Shah of the health ministry said. “Our hospitals are fully equipped and coping with the need.”