March 16, 2020 / 1:12 PM / 22 days ago

Turkey suspends mass prayers in mosques over coronavirus fears: religious authority

Workers in protective suits disinfect Molla Seref Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey suspended mass prayers in mosques until the risk of coronavirus outbreak passes, the head of Turkey’s religious directorate, Ali Erbas said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Erbas said the mosques will be kept open for individual prayers.

Turkey identified a total to 18 coronavirus cases, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday. The government has ramped up measures to halt the spread of the virus, closing schools and universities, holding sports events without spectators

(This story is refiled to fix slug with no change to text)

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Ece Toksabay

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