Friday prayers in Bangsamoro suspended for three weeks due to COVID-19 alarm

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19)— The Islamic advisory council of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has ordered the temporary suspension of Friday prayers in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

In an order signed by Grand Mufti Abuhuraira Udasan and released Thursday, the Darul Ifta said Friday prayers at all Bangsamoro mosques will be suspended for three weeks until April 10.

All congregational prayers in both big and small mosques will also be halted indefinitely, according to the directive.

The Philippines has seen a rapid spike in COVID-19 cases in the past weeks, with the number rising to 217 as of Thursday afternoon. A vast majority of the patients were recorded in Luzon, which has been placed under "enhanced" community quarantine in an effort to contain the outbreak.

Two of the cases were recorded in the Bangsamoro, both from Lanao del Sur. Other areas outside Luzon with confirmed COVID-19 cases include Cebu and the Davao region.

RELATED: Areas outside Luzon shut down its borders as number of COVID-19 cases rise

Globally, COVID-19 has infected more than 218,000 individuals in 158 different countries including China, where the mysterious virus first spread. Over 8,800 fatalities were also recorded, 17 of which came from the Philippines.