COVID-19: 79 Singaporean attendees who attended religious event in Malaysia contacted

A man wearing a hazmat suit and mask mops the floor inside the Hajjah Fatimah mosque in Singapore on 13 March, 2020. (PHOTO: AP)
A man wearing a hazmat suit and mask mops the floor inside the Hajjah Fatimah mosque in Singapore on 13 March, 2020. (PHOTO: AP)

SINGAPORE — Close to 90 per cent of the Singaporeans who had attended a mass religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur late last month have been contacted by authorities, said a senior Ministry of Health (MOH) official on Friday (13 March).

At least 79 of around 90 Singaporean attendees have been contacted and will be placed on a 14-day home quarantine and monitored during the duration, said the ministry’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak at a press conference led by the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin on Thursday evening on his Facebook page called on those who know any of the 90 Singaporeans attendees to get them to go for a health check.

At least 16 COVID-19 cases, including four Singaporeans and Brunei's first 11 cases of the virus, have been linked to the gathering.

In an 11-minute televised speech on the virus on Thursday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pointed out that several Singaporeans linked to the event have tested positive for the virus.

The mass religious gathering had taken place at the Seri Petaling Mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur from 27 February to 1 March, and involved around 10,000 people from several countries. Malaysian authorities are tracking around 5,000 citizens who have attended the event.

The attendees are believed to be followers of Jemaah Tabligh, or “Society for Spreading Faith”, a Muslim missionary movement set up in India in the late 1920s. Devout members are said to emulate Prophet Muhammad in all his customs, even eschewing beds for sleeping and using twigs for cleaning teeth.

At a press conference on Thursday, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said that one of the two Singaporeans infected is an officer with a mosque and had visited four mosques in between his arrival back in Singapore and getting medical attention.

These four mosques – Masjid Al-Muttaqin, Masjid Kassim, Masjid Hajjah Fatimah, and Masjid Jamae Chulia – were closed on Thursday.

Masagos – who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources – also announced then that all mosques here would be closed for at least five days from Friday for disinfection. Friday prayers for this week have also been suspended.

Additionally, all mosque activities, religious classes, and mosque-based kindergarten sessions have been cancelled from for two weeks from Friday to 27 March.

Mufti Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, the highest Islamic authority in Singapore, on Thursday also announced that a Fatwa – a ruling point of Islamic law – has been issued to allow the closure of mosques and suspension of congregational prayers when the need arises to reduce the risk of spread among the community here.

"Our advice to the community, instead of going to the mosques because they will not be open for Friday prayers, is to stay where they are – whether it’s in the offices or at home – to perform the zuhur (noon) prayers in place of the Friday prayers," said Dr Nazirudin. Religious guidance and reminders, replacing the Friday sermon, will be posted online.

Declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, the outbreak has sickened over 139,000 people globally and killed over 5,000 to date.

To date, Singapore has 200 confirmed cases of the virus, of which over 50 are imported. While 97 patients have fully recovered and have been discharged from hospital, 11 remain in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

– Additional reporting by Chia Han Keong

Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at

Related stories:

COVID-19: Ticketed events with at least 250 participants to be cancelled, deferred

COVID-19: Symptomatic travellers to S'pore must serve 14-day stay-home notice regardless of swab test outcome

COVID-19: Singapore imposes new border restrictions on Italy, Spain, France and Germany

COVID-19: Singapore planning ahead; no Dorscon red, no lockdown, says PM Lee

COVID-19: Singapore economy taking ‘big hit’, nobody has been spared – PM Lee