Saudi Arabia mosque prayer
Muslims perform the Al-Fajr prayer inside the Al-Rajhi Mosque while practicing social distancing, after the announcement of the easing of lockdown measures amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 31, 2020. A mosque in Dammam has been closed after its imam was suspected to have contracted the coronavirus. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Religious authorities in Saudi Arabia’s eastern city of Dammam have closed a mosque after its imam was suspected of having contracted the new coronavirus, Saudi media reported Thursday, days after mosques were reopened in the kingdom.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs shut the mosque after the imam sent a WhatsApp message to worshippers and notified the ministry’s branch in the Eastern Region that he suspects being infected with the highly contagious disease, Saudi online newspaper Sabq said, quoting a local official.

“The mosque has been closed. The imam has been suspended over suspicion of infection and the mosque’s muezzin has also been suspended as a precautionary measure for their safety and that of worshippers,” head of the mosques directorate in Dammam Ahmad Al Mahashir told Sabq.

He added that the mosque will be completely sterilised during the temporary closure.

The shutdown is the first of its kind since Saudi Arabia reopened on Sunday over 900,000 mosques across the kingdom, except in Mecca, in line with a plan to gradually return to normal life.

In March, Saudi authorities closed the mosques as part of strict measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.