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'Social distancing, virtual religious meet': WHO issues guidelines for safe Ramzan practices

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Washington, Apr 18: The World Health Organisation on Saturday called for social distancing during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to stem the spread of coronavirus that has claimed more than 1.5 lakh lives around the world.

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Amid the global coronavirus outbreak COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO advised that several steps should be followed during Ramadan to mitigate the impact on public health.

"A standardised risk assessment exercise must be followed while taking a decision to either modify or cancel, or proceed with holding a mass gathering," said the WHO statement.

"To avoid physical contact, other means of greeting can be adopted such as waving, nodding or putting the hand over the heart. Unwell and old people should take extra precautions and avoid attending any gathering whatsoever. Those with pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension/diabetes have also been asked to avoid events," it added.

Instead of the mass gatherings, virtual alternatives can be adopted, for example, using mediums such as television, radio or the internet.

The world health agency said that any gathering during Ramadan should be held in an outdoor setting and that smaller services with fewer people should be preferred over large gatherings.

"In case an ill person is identified at an event, immediate contact tracing must be facilitated," it said.

"A healthy diet must be followed and one should keep himself/herself hydrated at all times. Fresh food items and plenty of water have been recommended to those fasting during this period," it further said.

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