If Muslim scholars are asking the health ministry to prevent the Friday prayers over the fear of the coronavirus spread, the ban is "permissible," the Egyptian Minister of Awqaf (Endowment), Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, announced on Saturday.
Speaking in a conference held at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, Gomaa said that the "overall purposes of Islamic law require the protection of the people."
"In the event of an epidemic that is considered a threat to humanity, necessary measures must be taken to protect the human beings," he stressed.
Egyptian sources recently told the London-based publication Egypt Watch that they estimate there to be more than 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Egypt, contrary to official figures, which put the number at two.
According to Egypt Watch, patients who tested positive were being kept in military hospitals, which are not subject to the direct supervision of the Ministry of Health, sparking fears that cases would not necessarily be recorded.
The new coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China, last December and has now spread to more than 80 countries. The global death toll is nearing 3,300, with more than 97,000 confirmed cases.