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WHO issues coronavirus COVID-19 guidelines for religious practices during Ramadan

Amid the rising coronavirus COVID-19 cases across the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday (april 18) issued guidelines for the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to start in India on April 24. 
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has suggested the Muslim community to follow some steps during Ramadan to curb the spread of coronavirus. The global health body recommended that it is important to cancel social and religious gatherings in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, which has already claimed over 1.5 lakh lives around the world so far.
"A standardised risk assessment exercise must be followed while taking a decision to either modify or cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering," said the guidelines. The WHO has suggested that istead of the mass gatherings, virtual alternatives, using mediums such as television, radio or the internet, can be adopted.  . 
"To avoid physical contact, other means of greeting can be adopted such as waving, nodding or putting the hand over the heart. Unwell and old people should take extra precautions and avoid attending any gathering whatsoever. Those with pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension/diabetes have also been asked to avoid events," added the WHO.
The WHO has recommended that any gathering during Ramadan should be held in an outdoor setting and large gathering should be avoided. "In case an ill person is identified at an event, immediate contact tracing must be facilitated," said the global health body. The WHO added that all attendees should ensure proper physical hygiene such as hand washing, both inside and outside mosques.
The WHO also suggested to practise physical distancing while offering 'zakah', or charity, to the needy and said that people should not organise 'iftar' parties and can distribute food in packets.
The WHO, however, said that no studies have been performed on relating fasting with COVID-19 but suggested that those infected with COVID-19 must consult a doctor.
"A healthy diet must be followed and one should keep himself/herself hydrated at all times. Fresh food items and plenty of water has been recommended to those fasting during this period. Frequent smokers are at serious risk of COVID-19 and hence have been asked to avoid tobacco usage. In case of domestic violence, which is likely to take place during the lockdown, religious leaders have been advised to actively speak out against violence and provide support to the victims," said the WHO.

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