The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has called on Muslims to cancel or suspend events involving crowds such as conferences, discussions and seminars amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The appeal is also a call for the organizer of a Muslim gathering titled Asian World Ijtema to suspend the event, which is set to be held in Gowa, South Sulawesi, on March 19-22.
"We should not underestimate the coronavirus. If we cannot break the chain of transmission, many people will fall ill,” MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas said in a written statement on Thursday.
Anwar added that close contact between participants such as handshakes, kisses and hugs could happen in such activities.
The Gowa administration has decided to postpone the event. Participants who have already arrived in the region will be put on isolation temporarily, according to Gowa Regent Adnan Purichta Ichsan Yasin Limpo.
After a religious gathering held in Malaysia from Feb. 27 to March 1, three Indonesian citizens tested positive for COVID-19.
The 2020 Johor Qudamak was held at the Sri Petaling Jamek Mosque and in attendance were 700 participants from Indonesia, 200 from the Philippines and 95 from Singapore.
The MUI previously issued a fatwa that prohibited Muslims in areas where COVID-19 had spread “uncontrollably” from performing Friday prayers “until the situation returns to normal”.
It also encouraged people to minimize physical contact, bring their own prayer mats, wash their hands diligently and prohibited Muslims who had tested positive for COVID-19 from attending Friday prayer at mosques.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Indonesia has reported 227 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 19 deaths and 11 recoveries. The virus has spread throughout the country, including major regions like Jakarta, Yogyakarta, West Java, Central Java, Banten, Bali, North Sulawesi and West Kalimantan.