A mosque has been forced to close after more than 250 mourners attended a funeral last week despite the increasing rate of Coronavirus in Lancashire, City of England.
Muslim leaders have urged those who attended the Jamia Ghosia Mosque on July 13 in Blackburn — one of the country’s current virus hotspots — to self isolate or undergo Covid-19 tests, after the Imam tested positive.
They have also closed the building to worshippers for a deep clean.
The news sparked a backlash among locals who branded the mosque ‘selfish’ and ‘disgusting’ for allowing so many mourners to attend funeral prayers.
It comes as Blackburn introduced new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus last week after it saw a sudden spike in local cases.
New data revealed that Blackburn had overtaken Leicester as the area with the highest rate of coronavirus infection in the country, between July 11 and July 17.
Between those dates, Blackburn with Darwen recorded 79.2 cases per 100,000 compared to Leicester’s 77.7 per 100,000.
Most new cases were among the south Asian community, according to public health officials.
Around 150,000 people who live within the Lancashire authority have been told to adhere to the new rules in a bid to avoid a Leicester-like local lockdown.
Yesterday an announcement made by the mosque said the building would be closed until further notice while a deep clean takes place.
It urged those who attended the funeral to self-isolate for at least a week following last Monday’s service.
The message read: ‘Unfortunately our Imam who led the Janazah (funeral) prayer has been tested positive for Covid-19 and is recovering from the virus.
‘There is a possibility that other attendees may also have been infected at the Janazah prayers
‘It is our legal obligation to strongly advise you to isolate yourself for seven days, or attend your local Covid-19 testing station for Covid-test.
‘Any future Janazah prayer will consist of 30 people only and all Covid-19 Janazah will NOT be allowed in the Mosque as we experienced this week, this must take place in the Blackburn Cemetery.’
The news was met with backlash from locals who are now fearing a local lockdown. Posting on Facebook, Jo Pointon said: ‘This has really angered me. 250 people.
‘I attended my sisters funeral last week where only 12 people were allowed inside the church leaving several standing outside social distancing which was very upsetting.
So 250 people ignore the risks that come from large gatherings, told to isolate. They will not isolate.
They will go about their day as normal not giving a thought about anyone but themselves. ‘Selfish and ignorant.
My big question is how was this allowed?’ Various well-attended events across the country have also been criticised for failing to follow social distancing guidelines.
Dave Edmondson added: ‘How has a funeral with 250 attendees been allowed to happen? ‘No wonder there are hotspots and why we’re now still suffering with conditions imposed.’
In a post from June, the mosque told worshippers that using the masjid as normal can ‘amount to a death sentence’.
The post, titled ‘URGENT REQUEST: Coronavirus and the Masjid’ said: ‘During this troubling time, using the masjid as normal can amount to a death sentence for someone you associate with.
‘While the government is anxious to give the appearance that everything is returning to pre-Covid-19 normality, the reality is that the virus is as widespread as when the Lockdown should have started.’
The mosque and Public Health Blackburn have been contacted for a comment.