IMASA Official Position-Risk Adjustment Strategy

04th May 2020

Assalaamu Alaikum Warahmatullaahie Wabarakaatuh

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praises are due to the Almighty Allah in all His attributes and universal blessings upon the Leader of mankind, the beloved Nabi Muhammad (SAW)

Background

Corona Virus was declared as a global pandemic on the 10th of March 2020. Countries were advised to elevate their level of preparedness, alert and response, with responses that were tailored to local context. South Africa reported its first case on the 05th March 2020 - an imported case from Italy, a 38-year-old male who arrived in the country from a holiday on the 01st of March 2020. By the end of March 2020, there were 1353 confirmed cases in South Africa. On the 30th April 2020, there were 5645 confirmed cases.

South Africa has adopted a public health approach to addressing the Corona Virus pandemic that included public health information campaigns, international and local travel restrictions, closures of schools, universities, religious congregations, followed by a five week lock down period. The five-week lockdown period, with its restriction on general movement allowed the country to prepare the health system for the anticipated number of cases and flatten the curve to delay the peak of the epidemic.

On the 25th April 2020, a risk adjusted approach was developed in collaboration between the economic clusters and the Department of Health, which proposes a gradual easing of restrictions. Level five represents the current lockdown, Level four that we entered on the 01st May 2020 allows some activity to resume while levels three and two ease restrictions and promote physical distancing. Level one means that most activities can return to normal.

Despite, the easing of restriction on movement and economic activity, at all levels public gatherings including religious gatherings are restricted. The main consideration for this is that high viral concentrations may be present in areas with high concentration of people and increases the risk for transmission if a potential person within the congregation is harbouring Corona Virus. As a mitigation strategy, room ventilation, physical distancing, open spaces, proper use and disinfection of surfaces and areas can limit the concentration of the virus and reduce the risk of transmission.

The United Ulema Council of South Africa [UUCSA] and the majority of Muslims support the Government interventions to date and have taken all practical steps in adhering to the regulations as published by the Government of South Africa. The mosque forms a central focus of the life of all Muslims. Having noted the easing of restrictions on economic activities and the gradual return for educational institutions, it is our humble submission whilst simultaneously adhering to the Government regulation and all preventive practices, that the restrictions on religious gatherings be gradually eased in line with the risk levels.

We are fully aware that despite the best recommendations, and the most stringent measures, there is unfortunately no guarantee that we will be able to prevent the spread of Corona Virus especially in mass gatherings such as religious congregations. We hereby submit a strategy for the easing of this restriction below. Together with the easing we will work with medical experts to develop comprehensive risk-based guidelines that will be reassessed and adjusted on an ongoing basis guideline.

Although we request easing of restrictions in line with the decreasing risk, in situations where the environmental / structural condition of the mosque; social circumstances of the community; disease burden and trajectory of new cases as well as the ability of the local mosque to adhere to minimal criteria for infection prevention - then the default position of level four will apply.

Risk Level

Requested Relief

Risk Mitigation Strategy

4**

Mosque will not be open to the General Public. The office of the mosque will remain functional for community support.

Five persons that include the Imam, Muezzin and three other individuals who live on or in close proximity to the mosque premises will perform the required prayers in the mosque

Applicable at all levels

▪      Physical distancing of minimum two metres

▪      Compulsory face mask

▪      Hand sanitization

▪      Ablution facilities to be closed (performed at home)

▪      Pre-selection of congregants

▪      Pre-screening and

 

3

▪      Small facilities < 50m2: 6 worshippers

▪      Facilities≥50m2: 12 worshippers

▪      Medium mosque: 16 worshippers

▪      Large mosque: 25 worshippers

symptom monitoring

▪      Only < 60 years of age

▪      Restrictions for people with elder persons under their care

▪      No co-morbidities

▪      Carry own prayer mat

▪      Windows opened for Ventilation - Air conditioners if central system to be switched off

▪      Compulsory hand sanitization and temperature check at entrance

▪      Single entrance

▪      Staggered exit

▪      Cleaning of prayer area using recommended detergents

▪      Staggered times for more than one congregation - max three

▪      One building = one venue despite separate entrances and floors

2

▪      Small facilities < 50m2: 8 worshippers

▪      Facilities≥ 50m2: 12 worshippers

▪      Medium mosque: 33worshippers

▪      Large mosque: 50 worshippers

1

▪      Small facilities < 50m2: 12 worshippers

▪      Facilities≥50m2: 18 worshippers

▪      Medium mosque: 50 worshippers

▪      Large mosque: 75 worshippers

 

0

▪      Small facilities < 50m2: 16 worshippers

▪      Facilities≥50m2: 25 worshippers

▪      Medium mosque: 75 worshippers

▪      Large mosque: 100 worshippers

Calculation of the proposed relief numbers:

Assumptions: Mosque are classified as small, medium and large based on square metres of actual prayer area- does not consider courtyard or adjacent classes:

  • Small mosque: ≤ 100 m2 (75m2 used for calculation)
  • Medium size: ≥ 101m2 to 300m2 (200m2 used for calculation)
  • Large mosque: ≥300m2 (Max size of 300m2) used for calculation

Precautionary distance for each worshipper for social distancing = 3m (exceeding the minimum 2 metres)

  • Target numbers: Level 4: 10% of adjusted square metres
  • Level 3: 25% of adjusted square metres
  • Level 2: 50% of adjusted square metres
  • Level 1: 75% of adjusted square metres
  • Level 0 - before declaration of end of outbreak: 100% of adjusted square metres

We are currently investigating the options and risks associated with options of Eid Salaat in an open-air setting. Our recommendations will be based on the Corona Virus disease trajectory in the next two weeks as well as the Government advised risk level.

We request your dua’s that Allah [SWT] guide us in making correct decisions during these difficult times. AAMEEN

Jaza kumullahu khairun

DR YAKUB MOOSA ESSACK

[President on behalf of the NEC and Masaajied Working Committee of the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa - IMASA]