The deadly coronavirus continued to take lives, overtaking that of the Sars epidemic in 2003.
In China’s Hubei province alone, the epicenter of the latest outbreak, the death toll now is put at 780 by regional health officials.
All but two of the overall total of 813 deaths have so far been in mainland China. The virus اhas also reached Hong Kong where there was one confirmed death and 26 infections.
Hong Kong’s Muslim chief imam has criticized the government for failing to provide health information and surgical masks for the city’s ethnic minorities during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are part of the local community. When a virus spreads, it doesn’t see which religion or ethnicity you belong to. So we want to listen to the government’s instructions and work with local people,” Muhammad Arshad, the city’s chief imam at Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, told South China Morning Post.
“We are trying to bring in 50,000 masks from Turkey, and some more from Bangladesh, but it has been difficult with export bans and global shortages, and obviously government support would be helpful.”
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency over the new outbreak.
Acting on his own to protect Muslims, Imam Arshad has suspended Madrasa, religious classes for Muslim children. Yet, he said he will continue to hold prayers and gatherings at his mosque, including those held on Fridays that are often attended by thousands.
“There is no compulsion for them to come, and I cannot stop them from coming to pray. But I have told them not to hug or shake hands with each other,” he said.