The leader of majority-Muslim Tajikistan on Thursday urged the faithful to forego fasting during Ramazan to safeguard against "infectious diseases" even as he stressed the absence of coronavirus cases in the country.
In an address welcoming the Islamic holy month of fasting, President Emomali Rakhmon said it makes people "vulnerable to infection from infectious diseases" and urged farmers and manual workers to postpone the ritual.
"Although this disease is not registered in our country, this does not mean that we should be careless and sit idle," Rakhmon wrote in the address released by his office.
Saying he was citing Islamic scholars, Rakhmon described fasting as harmful for "farmers, livestock breeders and those who work hard".
"I urge all those who work in the fields and produce prosperity... to reschedule the fast to another, more favourable time," said Rakhmon.
Impoverished Tajikistan is one of the handful of countries that have not reported a single case of the novel coronavirus.
Another is fellow ex-Soviet state Turkmenistan.