As Covid-19 pandemic far from over, WHO warns public not to let guard down during Ramadan, Wesak

Muslims performing Tarawikh prayer during the holy month of Ramadan at Al-Malik Khalid Mosque, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, April 12, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Muslims performing Tarawikh prayer during the holy month of Ramadan at Al-Malik Khalid Mosque, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, April 12, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — For Ramadan, Wesak and other upcoming major religious events, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published advice for the public to help celebrate these religious observances safely as the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over.

Dr Ying-Ru Lo, WHO Representative to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore, said the advice is complemented by tip sheets for faith leaders on how to maintain religious practices during Covid-19.

The tip sheets provide guidance on religious events that involve mass gatherings, and a series of posters and social media tiles related to safe practices.

“We encourage people to continue listening to their health authorities and adhere to local guidance as individual and community behaviours are still the most powerful weapon against the pandemic and this is a responsibility that falls on all of us,” she said in a statement here today.

Governments are putting different public health and social measures in place to contain the spread of the virus during the holidays, and while religious traditions may look different due to these measures, still the spirit of each observance remains by coming together in a way that ensures everyone stays healthy.

Marking the occasion online, holding in-person celebrations with household members who already live together and attending gatherings at outdoor venues with extra attention to distancing, if gatherings should proceed, might be how we celebrate this year.

“In this era of social innovation and new technologies, it is easier than ever for us to join together, even when we are apart, and we should take a full advantage of this during the upcoming holidays” said Dr Lo in a statement here today.

“We urge people to get vaccinated based on their country vaccination schedule even during holidays. It is important to note that for those celebrating Ramadan, the Covid-19 vaccines and ingredients are in keeping with previous religious edicts and vaccination does not invalidate the practice of daily fasting.

“It’s very encouraging to see vaccines against Covid-19 starting to reach high-priority groups, but until vaccines reach everyone, we must all continue with protective behaviours when travelling, worshiping, celebrating or going about our daily life.”

Links to WHO advice and guidance on Covid-19 prevention during religious and cultural celebrations can be found here: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news/feature-stories/detail/staying-safe-from-covid-19-during-religious-and-cultural-celebrations. — Bernama

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