The following COVID 19 Safety Guidance was compiled and endorsed by the: SAMNET (SA Muslim Network), Islamic Medical Association SA (IMASA), African Muslim Farmers Association (AMFA), Academics and Medical Professionals
Note: The following Q&A’s are guidance for COVID-19 Safety Concerns and NOT about general good practices, animal welfare or Islamic rules. We advise you to follow advice of authorities, professionals and Ulema in relation to non-COVID19 practices.
Background: Qurbani is an obligation upon those Muslims who fulfil the Sharia criteria to do so. There is no reason not to perform Qurbani during the COVID19 Pandemic. However, in light of the current surge in infections, for this year, Muslims will have to exercise extreme caution and change from their normal habits, and cultural traditions, for their safety, the safety of their families, the Ummah (community) and the public.
It is of great concern that Muslims in South Africa have been disproportionally affected by COVID19 fatalities. In the spirit of Eid-ul-Adha, we all need to make sacrifices to ensure that this Eid and the Sunnah of Qurbani do not create an environment for increased infections and loss of
We pray the Almighty Allah protects us, gives Shifa to the ill, and delivers mankind from this pandemic.
Questions and AnswersIs it safe to make Qurbani in person during the COVID-19 Pandemic? The risk of infection can be minimised if ALL the necessary precautions are taken.
Is it safer to make Qurbani in a home setting or at an abattoir facility (e.g. farm) setup? COVID Safety during Qurbani is more about the precautions taken and who is at risk than the location choice. Good practices must be followed in either setting. Not applying good hygiene and social distancing will place the persons performing Qurbani, the people handling animals and carcases, your family and the public at risk.
Please consider your circumstances when making your choice. Think about YOUR factors that make it safer or more risky. It may be safer for some to make Qurbani at home, for others to use a professional facility, and for some to have someone perform it on their behalf.
HOME QURBANI: For COVID-19 safety, what infrastructure, sanitization or handling processes should we use in a HOME setting?
Qurbani can safely be performed in a home setting IF the following are considered:
a. Delivery of animals: ensure that you enforce social distancing protocols when receiving your animals.
b. Only close contacts (family living together) and those who are assisting should be present.
c. No external visitors and participants are allowed.
d. Face Masks are ALWAYS ON and if possible changed at regular intervals. No exceptions. (Face shields alone are NOT sufficient protection!)
e. Avoid using external help for handling, skinning and cleaning animals. Each additional person increases the risk of spread.
f. Only low risk members should handle animals (those under 55 and no pre-existing conditions) especially where external help is used.
g. There must be no social gathering of anyone who are non-contacts (people you do not live with or interact with frequently).
h. Wash with soap or sterilise any items shared / handled between each use, especially if used by multiple people. This includes knives, hooks, and containers. (IDEA: Set a timer alarm at 15 to 20 min intervals). Washing and sterilizing of knives should happen regularly, i.e. when not in use as well as between animals. Hot water (>82C) can be used to sterilize knives when not in use.
i. No screaming and shouting as it increases droplets being spread. The takbeer must be audible but not shouted.
j. Anyone who is at reasonable risk including an asymptomatic carrier should not participate.
k. Have sufficient Soap and Water easily available.
l. Wash down and sanitize any surfaces that may be exposed to the virus regularly.
m. Hang the animal by hind legs before skinning (wait 8 minutes after slaughtering). This reduces the risk of contamination by surface contact.
n. Ensure there is good ventilation and sufficient space ( >2m) between those handling the animals and skinning carcases.
HOME QURBANI (cont.):
a. Do not invite friends and family to join you even to “view” from a distance. People will unconsciously socialise and break social distancing rules.
b. Do not undertake to perform Qurbani at home if you do not have sufficient hygiene and resources, skills, sanitisation equipment.
c. Do not perform Qurbani for people outside your immediate contacts.
The above apply over and above all the sharia rules, and professional rules and guidelines.
NOTE: Employing external skinners, cleaners and help is possibly the highest risk factor for Qurbani at home setting. Qurbani involves a number of people handling animals at close quarters. Social distancing is very difficult under these circumstances!
ABATTOIR (FARM) SETTING: For COVID-19 safety, what infrastructure,
sanitization or handling processes should we use in a Abattoir setting?
The African Muslim Farmers Association (AMFA) have compiled a document with COVID-19 operational guidelines for farmers. This has been shared for the benefit of all those who perform Qurbani at facilities.
Please ask you facility if have these guidelines and request that they follow
As a member of the public, in addition to the rules of the abattoir/ farm, adhere to the following:
a. Ensure you are strictly social distancing at the venue.
b. Wear your mask correctly AT ALL TIMES.
c. Do not take elderly or at risk family members to the venue. It may be necessary for some people to ask the facility to perform their Qurbani for them.
d. No “visitors” or viewing should be allowed. Don’t take more people to the venue that are needed, including children.
e. Do not attend the venue if you could be infected even if you are not showing symptoms. This will protect the staff, skinners and cleaners and those performing Qurbani.
f. Answer screening questions honestly. They are for everyone’s safety.
g. Consider appointing a healthy youth to perform all Qurbani for your family members.
h. Consider if you can delay performing your Qurbani to the 2nd or 3rd day if appropriate.
i. Ask for an appointment or time slot where possible.
j. Be early (or on time), but expect delays.
k. Stay in your vehicle until your time slot.
l. Exercise Sabr. Due to safety protocols there may be long delays.
m. This is new to everyone, be considerate to the staff and others.
n. Leave as soon as you are done.
o. No socialising, before, during or after! It places you and ALL others at risk.
Is Qurbani meat safe to eat considering COVID-19? There is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through foods. Due to the cold storage process, it is good practice to wipe down and/or dispose of packaging. It is recommended that raw meat is washed before use. Like butchery purchased meat, Qurbani meant must be cooked for safe consumption.
Is it safer/less safe if handled by others at an abattoir facility setup? It is potentially safer if the slaughtering process is handled by others at an abattoir where they are well versed on the correct AMFA type guidelines in operating safely and efficiently. Only those performing Qurbani for their family need to attend the slaughter. If however, you can ensure that you are taking all precautions in a home environment, and you are skilled enough to perform your own Qurbani (and possibly skinning and cleaning), it is
preferable that you perform your Qurbani yourself.
If undertaking Qurbani at an Abattoir type facility, what COVID-19 health and safety procedures and processes should we be looking for to be in place? (e.g. If you want to slaughter by yourself vs. have people at a facility slaughter on your behalf)
Enquire beforehand about safety procedures and hygiene measures they are following. It is preferable that everyone follows a directional path, enter, slaughter and exit. Hand washing facilities provided so everyone can wash hands with soap before and after. Screening of visitors by temperature scanning and questions.
Weather permitting; try to stay in open well-ventilated areas. Keep a good distance from everyone until it is your turn to slaughter. Refer to the AMFA guidelines for more details.
Is there benefit of appointments and schedules for slaughter if you are slaughtering at facility or a home?
Yes. This is to prevent crowds, and keep the numbers on site to a minimum at any time. Appointment times may be delayed most often due to other people being late, less people to help or external factors like weather or equipment.
Are there any additional guidelines for handling meat?
The risk transmission by food is low if we practice good hygiene. Always wear a mask. Where possible, those handling meat should use gloves and hairnets and wash hands regularly with soap. (Idea: Set a timer alarm at regular 15-20 min intervals to remind everyone to wash hands!).
Don’t share knives or equipment that have not been washed with soap. Work at least 1.5m apart from the next person.
When meat is delivered to me what should I do?
Follow the general “delivery guidelines” of social distancing at 1.5m. Wash your hands with soap and water or sanitize them after accepting the delivery. Where possible wipe down the packaging before storing and dispose of excess packaging. Wash the meat before cooking and dispose of
Is it safe for me to have my meat cut into portions at a butcher?
Provided that the butcher practices safe handling, hygiene and social distancing it would be safe to do so. However, avoid crowding and wear your masks correctly at all times. Make arrangements BEFORE EID, and preferably use a butcher with a system that allocates a number or appointed time. Expect queues as a result of COVID protocols. Some butchers may choose not cut Qurbani meats for safety reasons.
Is it a risk if a family gathers over Eid for purposes of Qurbani?
This is a very high risk! Any mixing of people who are not in close contact must be avoided. With the current surge in infections and hospitalisations, this can cause an entire family to get infected including the elderly and those at risk who may not be at the venue. Qurbani takes time and the increased duration of interaction increases the risk to everyone present and the community.
Should Qurbani meat be exchanged or shared under the circumstances of COVID19?
It is safe to share and exchange meat, but one must follow social distancing and good hygiene practices for delivery and handling. Wipe down and dispose of excess packaging, wash before cooking, etc. Take care that the
delivery process does not turn into a social event. Be quick and keep your masks on!
There are reports of COVID-19 outbreaks at meat processing plants. Does this pose a risk to me for Qurbani?
No this does not. The reason for the outbreaks are often because employees work extremely close to one another where physical distancing is not easy. Regulatory and industry guidelines have been put in place and those handling meat are working on ways to mitigate this risk.
Is there any risk to Animal safety or wellbeing because of COVID-19?
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has indicated that there is no evidence that animals [especially those for Qurbani] play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19 or are impacted by the disease. Care should be taken as animal safety and well-being could be compromised as fewer or
inexperienced individuals may be available for animal restraint and handling. In line with Shariah and respect for animals, we should make efforts for stress to be minimized.
Dr Arshad Mather: PhD Biochemistry (Wits). Senior Researcher in the Vaccines and Diagnostics Development (VDD) Programme at Agricultural Research CouncilOnderstepoort Veterinary Research (ARCOVR). Founder and Deputy Director of the African Muslim Farmers Association (AMFA). Heads Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC)
and Impartiality Committee at the National Independent Halaal Trust (NIHT)
Dr Ayesha Karodia: State Veterinarian Northern Mpumalanga: Veterinary Public Health (Meat safety) and Clinical Services
Bilal Suleman: Medina Meats Abattoir Middleburg – African Muslim Farmers Association (AMFA)
Dr Shenaaz Mahomed: Independent Occupational Health Medical Practitioner
Prof Anwar Hoosen: Medical Microbiologist University of Pretoria
Dr Riyas Fadal: General Practitioner
Mohamed Kharwa: SAMNET (SA Muslim Network)
* African Muslim Farmers Association (AMFA): Standard operating procedure for the slaughter of animals for qurbani during the Level 3 covid-19 national lockdown (2020)
* World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses: interim guidance (2020)
* SYREAF: A rapid review of evidence of infection of pets and livestock with human-associated coronavirus diseases, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, and evidence of the fomite potential of pets and livestock (2020)