The month of Ramadan is approaching once again during the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, a general holiday was declared across the country ahead of Ramadan after the Covid-19 outbreak. The number of Covid-19 infections and deaths suddenly spiked at the same time of this year. The government has announced countrywide temporary Covid-19 restrictions ahead of Ramadan. If widespread movement of people can be controlled right now, infection will somewhat drop. But what is a matter of concern is that the infection has already spread at an alarming rate across the country. The restriction may be extended depending upon the situation.

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In the meantime, we have to prepare for Ramadan amid these circumstances. Our daily food habits change significantly during Ramadan. Then Eid-ul-Fitr comes and we have preparations for that too. Crowds increase at the kitchen markets, restaurants and shopping malls. The movement of people increases in cities and villages. But, this year requires more caution or the else festivity may turn into tragedy.

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Maintain maximum precautions

If your own health and that of your family is at risk, fasting and celebrating Eid will become uncertain. So maintain maximum precautions from now. Don’t go out unless absolutely essential. If you must go out, wear a mask. Avoid crowds and gatherings and maintain social distancing.

Keep in mind that taking care of your health itself is an important prayer. Try to perform prayers at home this year as much as possible. And, elderly people suffering from various diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney problems should perform tarabih prayer at home rather than at the mosque. Anyone going to the mosque must follow all health rules. Wear a mask, sanitise or wash your hands after entering and leaving the mosque. Take your own prayer mat with you. And if you go out for any necessity, you must wash hands carefully and change your clothes upon return.

Don’t attend iftar or sehri outside and don’t invite anyone home. Don’t create gatherings to distribute food, zakat an other donations. Eat homemade healthy food. Drink enough water to avoid dehydration. Eat fruits and vegetables to increase immunity.

It will not matter if you skipping Eid shopping and buying gifts this year. Ramadan is month of restraint and this year is a test that restraint. Show restraint in everything from food to clothes and celebrations. Your sacrifice may save the lives of thousands of others. Stand by those who are in a crisis during the Covid-19 restrictions and help them with money.

You should let drop celebrations because your rashness may endanger the life of your family and others.

Avoiding long distance travel is better. And if you must go home, travel cautiously maintaining health rules.

Don’t neglect sickness

Coronavirus has been mutating every moment. Now many people don’t show the symptoms of losing taste or suffering from fever. Some people only show symptoms like headache, body pain and weakness. Get tested if you show any symptoms of Covid-19.

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Meanwhile, Muslim scholars of the world said there is no problem with nasal swabs for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing while fasting. So, if anyone shows symptoms, they must undergo Covid-19 testing immediately. Isolation must be ensured as well. A physician must be consulted to ascertain if the concerned persons can fast. Since Covid-19 patients are required to drink a lot of water and liquid and eat plenty of fruits and proteins, they need not fast. Those who suffer from diabeties and other diseases must be particularly careful.

If the physician advises or of the oxygen level falls, admission to hospital may be necessary. Don’t delay because of Ramadan. A little delay can cause damage to the organs including the lungs.

Get vaccine

Shaikh Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, grand mufti and head of the Fatwa Department at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, told Gulf News at the beginning of March that taking an intramuscular Covid-19 vaccine will not break a fast during Ramadan. At the same time, the British Islamic Medical Association, in a message, said there is no problem in taking Covid-19 vaccine during fasting. Persons who have a date for the jab has been requested to get inoculated even while fasting. The Islamic Foundation and the religious affairs ministry of Bangladesh have taken a similar decision in mid-March.

The government has already announced the date for the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination. Those who received the first dose; if your date for the second dose falls during Ramadan, don’t forget to take it. However, following all health rules including wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing is a must even after getting vaccinated. It may take several days to create an effective antibody after receiving the vaccine. Besides, effectiveness of vaccine won’t work unless a huge number of the population get it.

ABM Abdullah is a professor and a personal physician of the prime minister. He is an advisor to the national technical advisory committee to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

Transcribed by physician Tanzina Hossain

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna.

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