Coronavirus: Malaysia confirms 77 cases from mosque event in KL

Muslims at a prayer session at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur last Friday. Malaysia saw its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases yesterday, with 41 new cases, including 37 from the mosque cluster.
Muslims at a prayer session at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur last Friday. Malaysia saw its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases yesterday, with 41 new cases, including 37 from the mosque cluster.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Govt bans all mass gatherings until May as cases rise to 238, with biggest single-day spike

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's health authorities said 77 cases of the coronavirus in the country were from attendees of a recent mass gathering of the Tabligh missionary group at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur.

The 77 cases confirmed by tests are spread over 12 of the 13 Malaysian states, and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, and in Labuan, a statement from the country's Health Ministry said yesterday. Only Terengganu state has been spared so far.

Malaysia, meanwhile, has banned mass gatherings until May at the earliest. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said last Friday that the coronavirus epidemic had taken hold in the country for the foreseeable future as a second wave of infections spread.

Malaysia's confirmed cases totalled 238 yesterday, including 41 new cases. The 41 cases - the biggest single-day jump in Malaysia - included 37 from the mosque cluster. The ministry figures showed that of those infected from the Islamic meeting, Sabah has 26 cases, followed by 11 in Negeri Sembilan and six in Sarawak.

The other states and Federal Territories, except for Terengganu, has between one and five cases each.

The Tabligh group held a mass gathering at Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur between Feb 27 and March 1, involving some 16,000 people.

The ministry has said that 14,500 of these were believed to be Malaysians, and another 1,500 were from other countries.

Members of the Muslim group typically travel from mosque to mosque, sometimes in small bands, preaching to local Muslim communities, and at least once a year hold a mass gathering in one or more countries.

In Singapore, all 70 mosques were closed for five days from last Friday for cleaning, and no congregational prayers were held following the infection of two Singaporeans who attended the KL Islamic gathering. Singapore said it was investigating and identifying its 95 citizens who attended the Malaysian meeting. Eleven of the cases linked to the gathering have cropped up in Brunei - the country's first cases of the coronavirus infection. Some 90 people from Brunei attended the gathering.

 

Meanwhile, Selangor Islamic authorities have imposed a temporary ban on all events organised by Tabligh in the state.

The health ministry said 1,000 housemen will be deployed in public hospitals nationwide from this week to help in the fight against the virus.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 15, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysia confirms 77 cases from mosque event in KL'. Print Edition | Subscribe