File photo: People attend Friday prayers inside a mosque
Egyptian authorities have sacked two imams who led mass prayers at their mosques despite a ban on the practice to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The first preacher “deliberately” opened the mosque he is responsible for in the southern Egyptian governorate of Beni Suef and led group prayers there, the religious endowments ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
The second imam led worshippers in prayer in front of his mosque in Giza governorate.
"Breaching the ministry’s instructions in these exceptional conditions is a violation of the national interest and could jeopardise society's health security," the statement read.
The ministry also emphasised that it would fire any imams who violate the instructions, issued this weekend, to close mosques for 14 days.
Egypt joined other countries around the world by calling off daily prayers and Friday congregations at mosques and shutting down churches nationwide in an attempt to avoid crowded places and stem the deadly virus.
Some coronavirus cases around the world have been linked to religious gatherings.
"The upcoming Friday prayer will be performed at home like the Dhuhr [afternoon] prayer," Egypt's Endowment Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said in a statement on Sunday.
He suggested television and radio broadcast Quranic recitations during the time normally allocated to broadcast Friday prayers.
Egypt has so far registered 294 coronavirus cases, including ten deaths.