SINGAPORE - Singaporeans have been urged to be mindful of Covid-19 when carrying out their religious practices, as reports emerge that 95 Singaporeans had attended a mass religious gathering in Malaysia in which several cases of the coronavirus were confirmed.
Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said in a Facebook post on Thursday (March 12) that the Ministry of Health is in the midst of identifying and investigating the Singaporean attendees.
The event is believed to have taken place at a mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur between Feb 27 and March 1, involving around 10,000 people from several countries.
The Malaysian authorities are currently tracking around 5,000 of its citizens who were at the gathering and who are believed to now have dispersed across the country.
In his post, Mr Masagos cited efforts made by the local Muslim community to limit contact as examples of good practices, coming at a time when the World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak a pandemic.
"For example, many are refraining from our usual handshake or 'Salam' and instead are adopting what I call the 'Mufti Salam', where one places his hand on his chest to convey his greetings.
"Many are also bringing their own personal prayer mats and paraphernalia to the mosque," he said.
The total number of coronavirus cases worldwide has now exceeded 120,000, with the United States announcing the suspension of all travel from mainland Europe to the country for the next 30 days from Friday.
Latest updates from Singapore's Ministry of Health put the number of confirmed cases of infections here at 178, of whom 96 have recovered and been discharged.
Mr Masagos in his Facebook post also reiterated that Singaporeans should "step up our personal hygiene and keep our public places clean to minimise the risk of disease transmission", even as Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Wednesday that Singaporeans should be prepared for the situation to worsen.
Mr Masagos said Singaporeans should make three good practices their "new way of life": using tissues when sneezing or coughing, properly throwing tissues away in bins instead of leaving them on trays or tables, and refraining from attending group activities or social gatherings if feeling unwell.
Two churches have emerged as clusters here since the first imported case was reported on Jan 23.
In moves to curb the spread of the virus, churches have also taken precautionary steps, such as temporarily suspending services and moving them online, as well as getting congregants to fill in travel declaration forms when attending service.