Jakarta. The World Health Organization released an advisory on Friday, the first day of Ramadan in Indonesia, telling Muslims to go on with fasting but also to take care of their health more than ever amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
The global health body said there had been no studies on Covid-19 infection risk during fasting, but healthy people should be able to fast as usual.
"Covid-19 patients should look up Islamic rules about breaking the fast, and consult their doctors," the agency said in a press release on Friday.
To maintain health and energy, the WHO suggests people should keep doing physical exercises even if they are stuck indoor, eat fresh and unprocessed foods every day and drink plenty of water.
"Avoid gatherings in public places that are usually crowded during Ramadan, including markets and shops. Always observe physical distancing and move your social and religious activities online," the WHO said.
If people insist on going to the mosque, choose one where soap, water and hand sanitizers are readily available at the entrance and inside.
Mosques should also be cleaned and disinfected more regularly. Frequently touched objects such as doorknobs, light switches and handrails should come for special attention.
"The health authorities remain the main source of advice for Covid-19 during Ramadan. Religious leaders should communicate any decisions made connected with Ramadan," the world body said.
The WHO advisory is in line with the Religious Affairs Ministry's guidance for Ramadan and Idul Fitri.
The ministry recommends not having iftar, the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast at sunset, in restaurants or malls, a common practice with family and friends during the holy month.
Performing the tarawih evening prayers in mosques, joining sahur on the road convoys – riding around town giving away food for the pre-dawn meals, and visiting the graves of dead relatives are also not recommended.
"This year people should avoid visiting family graves to avoid large crowds," Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said on Thursday.
Achmad Yurianto, the Covid-19 Task Force spokesman, told people to refrain from doing their religious activities in public and follow the new normal of staying at home.
"We're doing Ramadan this year under the shadow of the coronavirus. We can't do our tarawih prayers at the mosques, we should not have iftar together with friends in restaurants and everyone should give sahur on the road a miss. Stay home to stop the spread of the virus," Achmad said during his Covid-19 daily update on Friday.
As of Friday, there are 8,211 Covid-19 cases in Indonesia with 1,002 recoveries and 689 deaths. There are also 18,000 suspected coronavirus patients in the country who have not been tested.