Egypt's Coptic Church, endowments ministry suspend activities over coronavirus

Ahram Online , Sunday 15 Mar 2020

Activities by the two religious institutions will be suspended for two weeks

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral (Photo: Ahram)

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church and the Ministry of Religious Endowments have suspended most of their activities for two weeks to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

The decision came after Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered on Saturday the suspension of schools and universities for two weeks as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Egypt has 110 confirmed coronavirus cases, 21 of whom have recovered. The country has recorded two deaths from the flue-like virus:  a 60-year-old Egyptian woman and a German tourist.

The Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement late on Saturday that it is suspending all church education services and theology schools for two weeks in line with the president's directives.

The Church said that the daily mass may be split up into several smaller services to avoid large gatherings, especially on days off and on special occasions. The Church also urged those suffering from high temperature or flu symptoms to not take part in masses and called on people to avoid shaking hands.

Similarly, the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments has temporarily banned holding marriage celebrations and funeral services at mosques or halls attached to them.

It also decided to close all mausoleums and shrines nationwide and suspend classes at Islamic cultural centres affiliated with the ministry for two weeks.

Mosques will be open only for daily prayers and the weekly Friday sermon, the ministry said in a statement, stressing that any other gatherings or events at mosques will be suspended.

The ministry announced earlier that it was cancelling the annual Israa and Miraj celebrations, which mark the miraculous journey that the Prophet Muhammad embarked on from Mecca to Jerusalem and heaven.

Since its outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has infected more than 157,000 people globally and killed more than 5,800.

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