LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is being observed with public health measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

According to the Council of Ministers, mass prayers are allowed but the number of worshippers has been limited to one-third of the capacity in closed areas.

Talip Atalay, the head of the Department of Religious Affairs of Northern Cyprus, told Anadolu Agency that masks are mandatory in mosques, calling on the worshippers to fully comply with hygiene and social distancing rules.

“Unfortunately, this year, iftar (sunset meal to break the fast) tents and tables will not be set up,” he said, adding that they will make the necessary effort to reach every individual in need.

Underlining that many non-Muslims also reside in the country, he said regardless of beliefs, nationalities and ethnicities, it is the duty of Muslims to feed and meet everyone’s needs.

He said they would also reach out to the needy in the Greek part of the island, hoping that the holy month brings goodness to all Muslims and humanity.

Many charities as well as government institutions will deliver aid packages to families in need.

While the Turkish Red Crescent has pledged to distribute food packages to 2,000 families in the TRNC, Turkey’s state-run aid agency TIKA will also give out hygiene packages.

The TRNC has confirmed 3,913 COVID-19 cases and 24 related deaths. Vaccination drive against the disease also continues. Over 53,000 people have received their first dose, while 44,000 have been fully vaccinated.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar in Ankara

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