Thursday Mar 26 2020
Web Desk

Government decides to 'restrain' congregational prayers amid coronavirus outbreak

Web Desk

Federal ministers Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri and Asad Umar at a news conference. Photo: Geo News screengrab

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to 'restrain' Friday congregational prayers as new cases of the novel coronavirus continue to emerge across the country. 

"It has been decided with a consensus that Friday prayers will be 'restrained'," said Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri during a news conference. "Only mosques' administration staff and a limited number of worshippers will be allowed to pray inside mosques," he added. 

He clarified that mosques will not be closed but prayers and zikr will continue inside them. Dr Qadri said that the decision had been taken in consultation with ulema belonging to various schools of thought. 

"Ulema have been told to tell people to pray inside their homes," he said. "It is not only the job of the government to control coronavirus but also of the people."

The minister said that various programmes, classes and examinations across various madressahs in Pakistan had been postponed in light of the outbreak. 

Saudi authorities have urged us not to take a final decision on Hajj till 'green signal'

Dr Qadri said that the government was in constant touch with the Saudi foreign office. "Saudi authorities have asked us not to take any final steps [regarding Hajj agreement] before they give the green signal," he said.

He said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will take the final decision on Hajj 2020 after holding consultations with the heads of various Islamic countries. 

"Islam teaches us that the one offering the prayer is more important than the prayer itself," he said. "Governments across the world are making decisions according to the evolving situation. We are doing the same," he added. 

Pakistan has ample stock of wheat, says Asad Umar

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that it was a national obligation to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

He disclosed that the fifth session of the National Security Committee was held today in which concrete measures to defeat the coronavirus were discussed. 

Umar said that all educational institutions across the country will remain closed till May 31. He said that the government will review problems arising in the transportation sector. 

He said that there was no scarcity of wheat in the country. "We are receiving reports that in certain parts of the country, prices of wheats are increasing," said the minister. "There is no scarcity of wheat, Pakistan has 1.7 million tonnes of wheat in stock."

He said that PM Imran will make two important announcements on Friday. Umar said that the prime minister will reveal decisions regarding financial help and volunteers in the coming days. 

"Under these circumstances, those who resort to hoarding are enemies of the country and of Allah," he said. 

Situation will improve by April 5: Dr Zafar Mirza

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Thursday addressed a press conference to speak about the updates of the coronavirus in Pakistan. 

He said that by April 5, Pakistan will have enough medical equipment which will improve the security of the health staff looking after coronavirus patients across the country. He said that the government will introduce a training programme for the medical staff in about a month-and-a-half. 

Dr Mirza said that currently there were 1,102 confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan and more than 450,000 cases around the globe. He said that in Pakistan, the number of coronavirus cases increased by 102 in a few hours. He said that 21 patients across the country had recovered from the virus. "Eight people have died from the coronavirus," he said.