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Ramadan Amidst COVID-19: How To Keep The Spirit Of The Festival Alive Along With Staying Healthy

This is the second year of COVID-19 and the world is still witnessing an increase in the number of coronavirus cases every day. Simultaneously, this is also the second year of Ramadan, celebrated amidst coronavirus.

Similar to last year, this year also, several safety measures have been given out by various organisations to reduce the transmission of coronavirus infection during the festival season. These ways may help prevent the risk of COVID-19 and keep the spirit of the festival alive amidst the pandemic.

Therefore, go ahead with your rituals and celebrations and don't forget to follow the below-mentioned safety measures and stay healthy. Also, as Ramadan is the month of giving, bestow these messages to your loved ones and support them too. The below safety measures have been given out by the regional office for the Eastern Mediterranean of the World Health Organisation.

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How To Stay Healthy During Ramadan?

1. Drink plenty of water

Water is the primary need of the body. While you are fasting from dusk to dawn with no intake of water, the water and electrolytes levels may deteriorate. Therefore, drink plenty of water and electrolytes during the eating hours, along with water-based fruits and veggies such as watermelon, strawberries and lettuce.

2. Vaccines are permissible

According to higher fatwa bodies such as Al Azhar Al Sharif, vaccines are permissible to be taken during the fasting hours of Ramadan as it will not invalidate the fast. This is because, vaccines are mainly given intravenously and not from natural ways like mouth through which we usually consume foods.

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3. Wash hands often

Washing or sanitising hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitisers are the best ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Maintaining proper hand hygiene can denature the proteins of coronavirus or other microbes and inactivate or kill viruses. Therefore, keep washing or sanitising your hands often when you are in public or sneezes or coughs. [1]

4. Avoid fasting if you have critical conditions

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory for all Muslims who have reached puberty. However, people with certain diseases such as diabetes, heart problems or kidney diseases are excluded from the list as they may create a medical challenge for themselves and for medical experts. Avoid fasting if you have a medical condition that may cause you complications.

5. Avoid junk and high sugar foods

Avoid eating junk and high sugar foods during the eating hours of Ramadan. This is because, eating these foods soon after long fasting hours may cause your glucose levels to spike up suddenly, thus causing hyperglycemia and increasing the risk of diabetes and heart diseases. Start will low glycemic index foods, drink plenty of water and include more protein and complex carbs in your meals.

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6. Wear a mask

Wearing a mask has been the essential protocol since the beginning of the pandemic. Masks prevent the entry of coronavirus in the form of aerosols or droplets. They help cover up the nose and mouth, which are the primary virus entry points. Remember, wearing masks along with other safety measures such as hand hygiene and physical distancing can help slow the virus spread to the extent.

7. Sleep well

Routine sleeping or sleeping for appropriate hours (around 7-8 hours) can help reduce the symptoms such as headache and nausea which often accompany fasting. Sleeping also helps build a strong immune system, which is a must at times like this.

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8. Maintain physical distancing

Physical distancing can help limit the virus spread or slow down its transmission. Whenever you are at crowded places, stay at a safe distance of around 6 feet from people. This is because when a person sneezes or coughs, the viral aerosols may not transfer upto this far, thus lowering the risk of virus spread. Remember to wear a mask to add additional precautions.

9. Stay active

Staying active does not mean performing rigorous exercises; It means that one should maintain an active lifestyle as it will help them build endurance and stay fit. Rigorous exercises, however, are restricted as they may cause extreme loss of water and electrolytes from the body, and may cause the body to lose strength and muscle mass.

10. Avoid large gatherings

Avoid large gatherings with friends and families as it may increase the risk of COVID-19 spread. This is because, some attendants may have asymptomatic coronavirus and they could spread the infection to a large crowd.

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How To Keep The Spirit Of Ramadan Alive?

1. Care and support

Ramadan is the month of caring for each other to form a strong social bond based on mutual support and welfare of others. Keep the spirit of Ramadan alive by caring and supporting those in need, but from a safe distance. Remember, if you will stay healthy and fit, only then you'll be able to help others.

2. Pray and share

Ramadan is the festival of prayers, fasting and feasting. Offer prayers for the sick and needy and wish for their comfort, along with sharing foods, clothing and other necessities with the poor.

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3. Distribute foods safely

If you are eager to help others during Ramadan by distributing food, consider doing that with proper safety measures. You can do that by distributing pre-packaged boxes, giving foods from a safe distance and wearing masks while distributing.

4. Do digital charity

Sadaqat or zakah is a type of charity work in Islam. During Ramadan, you can engage in charity works safely, or do charity yourselves through digital ways like online payment methods. Avoid doing charity in cash as it may increase the virus transmission risk.

5. Host small events with safety

Events amidst COVID-19 are strictly restricted, except for certain ceremonies like weddings with a minimum crowd of 50-100. Unless it is important, restrict yourself from hosting small events like dinner parties, and even if you do so, limit the crowd to 10-20 with proper safety protocols. Also, make sure there are good ventilation facilities indoors and keep the names of the visitors for contact tracing.

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6. Engage with families

Festivals are meant to bring families together. This Ramadan, don't let any of your family members stay alone and engage with them, maintaining a safe distancing protocol. The pandemic has affected a lot of people physically and mentally. Therefore, shower your love to your dear ones as it may help improve their mental health conditions and reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.

7. Host virtual gatherings

Virtual gatherings are the best way to stay in touch with your families and friends and keep the spirit of Ramadan alive. Do that by video calling or simply calling your loved ones and check on their health.

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8. Perform healthy practices at a mosque

In case you are visiting a mosque to offer prayers during Ramadan, perform healthy practises at places of worship. Such practices include staying at a safe distance from others, wearing a mask, not visiting if you are ill, carrying alcohol-sanitisers and ensuring the place has adequate soap and water and cleaning facilities.

9. Encourage others to take vaccines

As aforementioned, vaccines do not invalidate the fast as it is taken intravenously, and not orally. Spread the word to others who are abstaining themselves from taking vaccines due to fasting. Make them aware, how vaccination is an important step to control the transmission of the virus, and build a strong immune system to cope with the pandemic.