Amid coronavirus outbreak, UAE restricts Friday prayer to 10 minutes

Amid coronavirus outbreak, UAE restricts Friday prayer to 10 minutes

Dubai: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday announced that the Jumu'ah prayers will be limited to 10 minutes here this Friday, on account of the coronavirus outbreak. The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments have instructed all the Imams to this effect.

Only two verses of the Jumu'ah chapter will be recited on Friday. The prayer will be shortened and the speech will be limited to the one provided.

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted Islamic worship in the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia on Wednesday banned its citizens and other residents of the kingdom from performing the pilgrimage in Mecca, while Iran cancelled Friday prayers in major cities.

UAE warns residents to restrict travel

UAE warned its citizens and its foreign residents not to travel anywhere abroad amid the ongoing worldwide coronavirus outbreak, a stark warning for a country home to two major long-haul airlines.

The country's Health and Community Protection Ministry warning comes as its capital, Abu Dhabi, sent 215 foreigners it evacuated from hard-hit Hubei in China to a quarantine set up in its Emirates Humanitarian City.

They include citizens of Egypt, Sudan and Yemen.

Health officials warned that those travelling abroad could face quarantine themselves at the discretion of authorities.

The UAE is home to Emirates, the government-owned airline based at Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel.

Abu Dhabi also is home to Etihad, the country's national carrier.

Both airlines have encouraged staff to take time off as international travel has dropped due to the virus.

Dubai airport handled 86.4 million passengers last year, roughly 237,000 a day, most of whom were transiting.

14 day home quarantine for those returning from overseas

The UAE, which is closing schools and educational institutions for four weeks on March 8, said students and education workers would have to spend 14 days at home after returning from overseas.

On Wednesday, Dubai's health authority said a student had contracted the virus from a parent who had travelled overseas.

Medical tests are already being conducted on passengers arriving from China, Italy, Lebanon, and Thailand at Dubai airport and entering the country, Emirates says on its website.

Transit passengers are not being tested but will have their temperature checked before boarding their connecting flight, Emirates added.

Passengers arriving and entering from Syria are also being tested, according to an internal Emirates staff email dated February 29 which mentions China, Italy and Lebanon but not Thailand.

The test is a nasal swab and temperature check, it says.

Flights from the UAE to Iran, Bahrain and most of mainland China have been suspended because of the outbreak, which has also led to major events being cancelled across the country.

27 confirmed cases

The UAE has reported at least 27 coronavirus cases.

The UAE is home to some 9 million people, with only about 1 million estimated to be Emirati citizens.

There are now over 3,150 cases of the virus across the Mideast.

Of those outside Iran in the region, most link back to the Islamic Republic.

There, authorities say the virus has killed at least 92 people amid 2,922 confirmed cases.

Iran and Italy have the world's highest death tolls outside of China.

(With inputs from AP, Reuters.)

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