Egypt cairo mosque disinfectant
A volunteer wearing a face mask sprays disinfectant inside a mosque as it is prepared for prayer after being reopened, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt, June 26, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Egyptian authorities have shut down a major mosque in Cairo until further notice after worshippers failed to abide by precautions to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Ministry of Awqaf, responsible for mosques in Cairo, said it decided to close the Mosque of Al Hussain, named after the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and referred its imams and other staff to interrogation for “dereliction of duty”.

The ministry urged its staff to raise worshippers’ awareness about the importance of observing precautions and to follow up compliance since mosques open for prayers and closing them after prayers end to avoid legal liability.

The closure of Al Hussain Mosque went into effect Thursday evening. It comes almost a week after Egypt reopened mosques nationwide for daily group prayers except Friday prayers. At the time, authorities urged worshippers to strictly abide by precautions to prevent the proliferation of COVID-19. They include keeping distancing, using personal prayer rugs, and doing the ablution at home.

Some neighbours of Al Hussain Mosque blamed worshippers for violating the anti-coronavirus precautions.

“Since reopening, the mosque had been very crowded,” said a man named Farhat. “Some worshippers used to remain inside the mosque after the end of prayers. Others ignored the distancing rules despite the presence of floor signs,” he told a local TV station.

Last March, the government shut down places of worship in Egypt as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus in the country of around 100 million people.

Egypt so far has recorded a total of 71,299 infections, including 3,120 related fatalities amid a spike in daily cases.

The government has recently loosened some virus-related restrictions, including ending a nighttime curfew, to revitalise economy.