Today, the Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force (CMCTF) issued guidance for the Canadian Muslim community in the wake of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the country.
The Task Force is calling for Canadians to get vaccinated, wear a well-fitting mask for all indoor gatherings, get tested, if you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, avoid all non-essential travel and stay informed.
"This is a rapidly evolving situation. Be a community champion and help keep your community informed using reliable sources," says the Task Force in its news release.
// NEWS RELEASE:
OMICRON VARIANT UPDATE AND WINTER GUIDANCE FOR CANADIAN MUSLIMS
December 19, 2021 | Jumada Al-Awwal 15, 1443 AH
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Abundant Peace, Blessings and Salutations upon the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
Why Should We Be Concerned?
- Indoor gatherings over the holidays and winter months in less ventilated settings will increase the risk of infections and outbreaks.
- Complacency and pandemic fatigue are setting in, especially in parts of Canada that reopened over the past several months after prolonged lockdowns. This may result in a breakdown of protective measures.
- Resurgence of other viral respiratory infections - The common cold, flu, and pneumonia may have similar symptoms to COVID-19, making it harder to tell them apart.
- The Omicron variant spreads more easily and will lead to more persons with COVID-19 around us. Omicron is set to become the dominant strain in Canada and overtake the Delta variant, which caused the third wave in early 2021.
- Lots of people are still at risk, including people who are unvaccinated, elderly or with chronic health conditions. Despite having ~80-90% vaccination rate in some communities, this still leaves millions of people at risk. If even a small percentage of a large number of at-risk people are hospitalized or develop long-COVID, this can overburden our healthcare system and society.
- Impact on healthcare system capacity - There are already significant delays and difficulties in accessing routine medical care. If infections and hospitalizations continue to rise, this may worsen backlogs to life-saving and elective surgeries, procedures, and visits for routine health care. Our healthcare system is already under tremendous pressure with a great deal of burnout amongst nurses, doctors and hospital staff. Combined with staffing shortages across Canada and additional pressures, this will significantly impact patient care.
- Downstream impact on our lives and wider society - If additional public health measures and restrictions are needed to control infections, this may worsen the already-seen negative impacts of the pandemic on business, employment, schools, mental health, spirituality and social connectedness.
- Protection with the COVID-19 vaccines - With vaccination, we are offered strong protection from severe illness and are less likely to spread the virus. Based on early data however, their effectiveness may be reduced due to this variant’s significant number of mutations. We also now know that our protection against infection with the vaccines decreases approximately 6 months after the second dose, and that 3 doses provides greater protection. Many Canadians who received their vaccines during the spring and summer are now approaching the six-month mark.
What Should We Do?
We Must Stay Resilient - Our communities have learned through previous waves, we have built up the knowledge, tools and resources to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
“We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure.” (Quran, 2:155)
Minimize Gatherings and Contacts Outside Your Close Circle - Avoid unnecessary visits to crowded indoor spaces, work from home if you can, maintain distancing indoors as able and prioritize gatherings that are essential and within allowable regional limits e.g. for family or essential needs, to preserve them as long as possible.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”
Maximize Ventilation - Keep your HVAC fan ON instead of in AUTO mode, change your air filters when due, open windows if weather and safety permits, and install HEPA air purifiers. Register your mosque, school, or community centre for the Clean Air Program at bit.ly/cleanmyair.
Get Vaccinated – Vaccination is still the most effective tool in protecting ourselves from COVID-19. The vaccines are safe, effective, Halal, and strongly recommended by the Canadian Council of Imams and Fiqh Majlis of Canada. Information about COVID-19 booster shots and vaccines for children aged 5-11 years can be found with your local public health unit. Get your vaccine at a regional mass vaccination or public health clinic, local pharmacy, pop-up or mobile vaccination clinic. Make sure your COVID-19, pneumonia and flu shots are up to date.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Make use of medical treatment, for Allah has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease, namely old age.”
Wear a Mask for all Indoor Gatherings - Wearing a well-fitting mask (that covers your chin and nose in indoor public settings) protects both you and those around you from harm. Medical masks and respirators provide greater protection and are recommended over cloth masks.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Do not cause harm or return harm.”
Get Tested - If you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible and isolate until you have been cleared. Rapid antigen tests may be distributed for free in your region and are also available for private purchase. These tests are not invasive, are fairly accurate, and can provide an answer within 15 minutes. A positive test should be followed by isolation, confirmed with a PCR test as soon as possible and all our contacts should be notified.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother" or he said "for his neighbour, what he loves for himself."
Avoid all Non-Essential Travel - The Canadian government has advised all Canadians to avoid any international travel unless it is absolutely essential. Travelling during this period may result in illness while in a different country, limited support to be able to return to Canada, travel interruptions with cancelled flights, increased testing and/or quarantine requirements, and place the Canadian public at risk.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place."
Stay Informed - This is a rapidly evolving situation. Be a community champion and help keep your community informed using reliable sources.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever gives medical treatment, with no prior knowledge of medicine, is responsible (for any harm done).”
Make Dua - Ask Allah (SWT) to uplift us from the pandemic and spend time in self-reflection. The power of Dua is evident through all of the Prophets’ (PBUT) supplication in times of great need.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Seek refuge with Allah from the punishment of Hell, and seek refuge in Allah from the punishment of the grave. Seek refuge in Allah from the trial of Al-Masihid-Dajjal, and seek refuge in Allah from the trials of life and death.”