Walsall Muslim leader in coronavirus warning as 'groups continue to gather'

Community leaders fear Muslims in Walsall are still putting themselves in greater danger of catching coronavirus by meeting in groups.

Despite mosques closing their doors and urging worshippers to pray at home and strong advice to stay safe being issued, people have been reportedly gathering elsewhere, such as in local shops.

Health officials have classed Muslims as being one of the greater 'at risk' because of a number of cultural factors.

These include the extended family structure which could see three generations living under one roof, leaving vulnerable members such as elderly grandparents with underlying health conditions susceptible to being affected.

Earlier this month, the Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO) in Walsall called on mosques to close doors to daily prayers which can attract thousands of worshippers – particularly for the normally obligatory Friday prayer, Jumu’ah.

UMO interim president Mohammed Arif said: “Members of our community are still gathering in local shops. We need to strike a message home how deadly this is.

“We are urging the local community and particularly those with underlying health conditions to please stay at home.

“Experts’ worst predictions about a higher death rate amongst Muslims than other communities are becoming true.”

Mr Arif said it was difficult for people in the community, especially those who attended mosques for daily prayers, but added it was vital to help stop the spread of the disease.

His call has been echoed by heartbroken relatives of people who have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Walsall.

Mushtaq Ahmed, whose 64-year-old cousin Mumtaz Ahmad died at Walsall Manor Hospital on Saturday, said: “This virus is a killer and it is getting worse everyday.

“People just don’t seem to know what this virus is and they have been taking it too lightly.

“People shouldn’t have gatherings or get-togethers and instead, should be at home.

"Don’t visit anyone, use the phone. Listen to the Government’s guidelines and do your best. Please be careful.”

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