Sri Lanka’s Muslims offer prayers for virus victims

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Prayers were offered for virus victims. (File/AFP)
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A scanning and transmission electron microscope image of coronavirus released by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) Rocky Mountains Laboratories (RML). (NIAID-RML)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Sri Lanka’s Muslims offer prayers for virus victims

  • More than 2,000 worshippers gathered at the 19th-century Dewatagaha Mosque

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Muslim community offered Friday prayers in solidarity with victims of the global coronavirus outbreak that has already killed nearly  1,400 people, mainly in China.

More than 2,000 worshippers gathered at the 19th-century Dewatagaha Mosque near Colombo’s Town Hall for prayers that were also attended by Muslim parliamentarian S. M. Marikar, Colombo Deputy Mayor Mohamed Iqbal and Chinese diplomats.

Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan, the Chinese mission’s Cultural Counselor Liu Dong expressed gratitude for the move and offered an assurance that business activity between the two countries will resume soon.

“China is overwhelmed by the moral support given by the Muslims of Sri Lanka during this crisis. We will soon overcome this problem and business will be restored as usual,” Liu said, referring to a recent slump in trade due to the virus outbreak.

Marikar, who coordinated the prayer meeting, said that “China has lost lives, while Sri Lanka is largely affected due to the absence of Chinese tourists, who topped the list of foreign visitors to the island.”

The special prayers were requested by Xueyuan, whose hometown has a large Muslim population, the mosque’s trustee, Reyyaz Salley, told Arab News.

Last week, Chinese diplomats requested prayers at Gangaramaya Temple, one of the most important Buddhist sites in Colombo.


Afghanistan confirms first case of coronavirus along border with Iran

Updated 13 min 33 sec ago

Afghanistan confirms first case of coronavirus along border with Iran

  • The infected individual has been placed under quarantine and is being treated by doctors at a health facility in Herat
  • Under the state of emergency, Herat’s residents are required to restrict their movement outside their homes

KABUL: Afghanistan’s government on Monday ordered a state of emergency in Herat province, which borders Iran, after one of its residents tested positive for coronavirus — the first case to be reported in the country.

Three elderly Afghan men were hospitalized on Sunday after displaying symptoms following their return from Iran five days ago.

“Their blood samples were sent for further testing in Kabul on Sunday, and one of them has been affected by coronavirus,” Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz said on Monday.

He added that the infected individual has been placed under quarantine and is being treated by doctors at a health facility in Herat. The province, with a population of nearly 1 million, lies nearly 950 km from Kabul.

Under the state of emergency, Herat’s residents are required to restrict their movement outside their homes, stop traveling to other parts of the country and refrain from having visitors, Waheed Mayar, a spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, told Arab News on Monday.

Abdul Hakim Taman, head of Herat’s public health department, told Arab News: “We’re worried about the situation and the spread of coronavirus.”

Fearing the spread of the disease, the Afghan government on Sunday ordered the closure of the border with Iran.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been living for decades as war refugees in Iran, and routinely visit the country for business or to visit family members.

Some of them use illegal routes to travel to Iran and back, making it difficult for authorities to detect cases of the virus. Iran is Afghanistan’s main trade partner.