Indonesia halts Muslim pilgrimage, begins quarantining 9,000

Indonesia halts Muslim pilgrimage, begins quarantining 9,000
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Indonesia ordered a halt Thursday to a 9,000-person pilgrimage and began the process of quarantining the worshippers and checking them for symptoms amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The missionary movement that organized the event, Jamaat Tabligh, held a similar gathering in Malaysia three weeks ago which has been linked to the majority of the 900 cases in that country and several others, The Associated Press reported.

“We’ve worked hard in dealing with this issue, involving religious leaders and security forces. We have told the pilgrims that we are in an emergency state of coronavirus and only common discipline can break the COVID-19′s wide spread,” said Gov. Nurdin Abdullah, whose Indonesian province, South Sulawesi, was to be the site of the gathering.

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More than 400 foreign nationals from countries including Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia will be quarantined at a nearby hotel and allowed to leave based on their ticket dates, Abdullah said.

Indonesia’s coronavirus death toll of 25 is the highest in Southeast Asia thus far. As of Thursday morning, there are a total of 309 cases of the virus there, the AP reported.

Sentot Abu Thoriq, a member of the organizing committee for the event, criticized the government’s decision to cancel it and said any attendees would have gone through a health check at airports and sea ports.

“The decision and the treatment is clearly against our faith and hurt us,” Thoriq told the AP. “Health, illness or death is God’s destiny, we believe that God will bless and protect those who are devout.”