Coronavirus: Iraq cancels Friday prayers in Shia holy city of Kerbala

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Iran also cancelled weekly prayers in Tehran and provincial capitals on March 6

Iraq cancelled Friday prayers in the Shia holy city of Kerbala due to concerns about the coronavirus, a statement from the administration of the city’s holy site said on Wednesday.

Kerbala, like the neighbouring holy city of Najaf, attracts Shiites pilgrims from Iraq and abroad. Prayers had already been cancelled on March 6. 

In Iran, authorities also cancelled the weekly prayers in Tehran and provincial capitals on March 6.

Meanwhile, Singapore said they would close all mosques for at least five days for deep cleaning to prevent the spread of coronavirus after two congregants were thought to have been infected during an Islamic conference in neighbouring Malaysia.            

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore said the closures would take effect Friday, and that authorities are trying to track down around 90 Singaporeans who attended the three-day religious event in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore’s health ministry said two of nine new cases announced on Thursday were of people who had attended the event, which has also been linked to at least 12 infections in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s health ministry called on Thursday for mass gatherings to be postponed after at least 12 coronavirus cases were linked to a three-day religious event in the capital attended by some 10,000 people from several countries.

Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which has reported 149 infections of the virus, are tracking about 5,000 citizens who took part in the February 28 to March 1 gathering of Islamic missionaries at a mosque in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.