Saudi Arabia has reiterated the need for worshippers to wear masks inside mosques to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus and its variants after the emergence of the breakout Omicron mutation.
The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs said worshippers should take precautionary measures in mosques, such as wearing face masks and maintaining a safe distance from other worshippers during prayers.
The ministry called on imams and preachers to educate society about the importance of maintaining public health and following regulations.
The guidance comes just days after the committee in charge of implementing Covid-19 safety measures in Saudi Arabia held its 283rd meeting, chaired by Minister of Health Fahd Al Jalajel.
Saudi Arabia last week detected its first case of the Omicron Coronavirus variant that was first detected in southern Africa this month but may have been circulating undetected much longer.
The World Health Organisation has warned that the new emerging strain is a cause for concern, although scientists are still trying to determine the possible impact.
Early reports indicate it may be highly transmissible, infecting both the vaccinated and those who have recovered from the virus previously, but also appears to be less lethal with many of those catching the new strain only presenting mild to moderate symptoms. It has quickly spread to be the dominant strain among new infections in South Africa and experts are alarmed at how quickly such a mutated strain of the Covid-19 virus has emerged.
Saudi Arabia last week halted flights from 14 African nations, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Saudi Arabia has increased its vaccine push, announcing that everyone aged 18 or over would need to get a booster shot by February.
Life in the kingdom has largely returned to normal, albeit with mask-wearing, testing, social distancing and other health measures. The kingdom has brought back large events – including the kingdom's first F1 race this weekend and the return of the popular Riyadh Season of music and arts events.
Cases are at an all-time low with a seven day average of just 45 new cases. The Kingdom has had a total of 550,000 Covid-19 cases and 8,845 deaths. At least 70 per cent of the population has received one dose of a vaccine and 64 per cent have received two doses.