Singapore gurdwaras take measures to fight coronavirus

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By Asia Samachar SINGAPORE |

Singapore gurdwaras are taking precautionary measures, including screening staff temperature and wearing gloves and masks when preparing food, as the nation battles the coronavirus.

In a meeting yesterday (Feb 15), Sikh institutions and gurdwaras agreed looked at a number of potential ‘key measures’ to control the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) which has affected more than 70 people.

The one-page guideline, issued by the Co-ordinating Council of Sikh Institutions (CCSI), will see gurdwaras on a heightened alert but not canceling programmes.

It made some suggestions on attendance and participation, darbar sahib (prayer hall), langgar lall (commuity kitchen), and general cleanliness and hygiene.

In the note, it said, in principle, besides some large — scale events being postponed, other regular community activities — including the various Gurdwara programs and Punjabi-school classes – will carry on.

It also recommended gurdwaras and other Sikh institutions impose temperature screening when one attends/visits their premises.

“At this juncture, the intent is to implement what is practical to each individual gurdwaras, to play our role and part to manage the current situation,” Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) president Baljit Singh told Asia Samachar. He took part in the meeting.

The CSGB manages and operates the daily running of two Singapore’s Gurdwaras –Central Sikh Gurdwara at the junction of Towner Road/Serangoon Road and the Silat Road Gurdwara along Jalan Bukit Merah.

It is understood that gurdwaras are keeping tabs of staff temperatures, but are not conducting temperature checks on the visiting public, as they do not have the proper equipment to perform checks on a large scale.

“We are not doing temperature check on the visiting Sanggat (congregation members),” said another gurdwara official.

It is understood that checking temperatures for a larger crowd requires thermal scanners, like those used at airports, which may not be readily available.

CSGB’s Baljit said the gurdwaras would decide upon the best measures depending on the practicality of implementing the measures, availability of sensors, protective gears, the daily congregation size, the design of the premises and the feedback of the sangat, among others.

On the whole, they are upping the ante on personal hygiene, making more public broadcasts and informing congregation members who are not well to consult the doctor and stay home.

In an update yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore reported five new cases of COVID-19 infection, with three of them linked to the cluster at Grace Assembly of God church, a popular Christian group which has canceled all large scale gatherings.

SGSS Singapore
THE FULL STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE CCSI:

Key Measures for Sikh Institutions for COVlD-19

Backround

In light of the outbreak of COVID-ls (the 2015 novel coronavirus disease) in Singapore, leaders of the Singapore Sikh community met on 15 February 2020 and agreed upon the following precautionary measures. In principle, besides some large—scale events being postponed, other regular community activities — including the various Gurdwara programs and Punjabi-school classes – will carry on.

So long as the precautionary measures, in line with the government’s recommendations, are in place, we wish to maintain the confidence, faith and calm in the community.
These measures agreed upon are as follows:

Attendance and Participation

1. If any member of the community is unwell, please do seek medical help from the doctor, stay at home and avoid attending or participating in any community activity, including visiting the Gurdwara. This socially responsible action will help ensure that the welfare of the rest of the congregation/community is taken care of.

2. Our Gurdwaras and other Sikh institutions shall impose temperature screening when one attends/visits their premises and this is likely to be done at a single entrance point. In view of this, some regular entrance points may be closed to make it easier for volunteers to streamline the temperature checking process.

3. Gurdwaras and other institutions could set-up books/forms for anyone attending/visiting to record their details (name, contact) as requested by the Ministry of Health for contact tracing if need be. Those Gurdwaras with CCTV recording common spaces can also rely on footage from these cameras in the event that contact tracing is needed.

Darbar Sahib

1. Volunteers who serve kara parshaad degh will be asked to do so using spoon and plastic gloves as well as have on facial masks. Some gurdwaras may also choose to serve parshaad outside of Dorbar Sahib for convenience and safety.

2. Any member of the congregation doing any form of sewn in the Darbar Sahib, including Chou! Sahib sewn, will be asked to wash his/her hands with soap before proceeding with the sewn. Gurdwaras will make soap bottles readily available at all washing points near Darbar Sahib.

Langgar Hall

1. In the preparation of langgar all sewadars and volunteers are asked to wear gloves and facial masks throughout the preparation and avoid using bare hands to prepare any food during this period, including salads etc.

2, The same protocol of using gloves and masks will be followed in the sewing of Ianggar at all times. As far as possible, avoid any member helping themselves and use gloved and masked volunteers to serve the langgar.

3. In the washing of dishes thereafter, where possible, dishes should be rinsed with a round of warm water to sterilise them. Any waste food is to be disposed safely and regularly and avoid any bins that contain them to be left uncovered or unattended.

General Cleanliness and Hygiene

1. Institutions are recommended to clean their common areas, including the langgar hall, kitchen and toilets, more frequently than present with adequate and effective cleaning solutions.

2. Institutions should also help their congregations easily maintain personal hygiene levels by making available hand soap bottles, hand sanitisers, paper towels/wet wipes in easily accessible and common places.

The document made some suggestions on attendance and participation, darbar sahib, langgar lall, and general cleanliness and hygiene.

RELATED STORY:

Bringing Guru Nanak’s message to Singaporeans of all races and religions (Asia Samachar, 11 Nov  2019)

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