An investigation to establish the full facts of what happened after a mosque's imam tested positive for coronavirus following a 250-strong funeral has now been completed by the council.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council have now published the facts in relation to the incident, which took place at The Jamia Ghosia mosque in Blackburn two weeks ago.

The mosque, based on Chester Street in Blackburn, hosted a funeral on July 13 where around 250 people turned-up – despite official government guidance stating a maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend such events.

Upon hearing the news that the imam tested positive for the coronavirus, the congregation were asked to self-isolate.

The findings are as follows:

  • The mosque misinterpreted the government guidance for congregational prayers by assuming that the prayer element of funerals, that are a congregational prayer, were covered by the broader guidance for daily prayers.
  • They held short funeral prayers on July 13, and all the recommended safety precautions for congregational prayers were in place; the agreed limit for people inside a place of worship based on Covid safe and risk assessment guidance was not exceeded, hygiene measures and social distancing were adhered to.
  • The mosque acted proactively and swiftly and reported the case, and started to contact the congregation with advice.
  • The committee voluntarily closed the mosque for all activity and instigated a deep clean.
  • The mosque management have fully co-operated and have acted responsibly, disclosing the incident and following all the safety advice given in recent council Covid-19 training.

A spokesperson for the council said: "This was not classed as an outbreak as only one person tested positive, however the possible exposure means everybody who attended the funeral prayers were advised to isolate for 14 days (until July 27) and register to be tested, although it is thought that, because of the social distancing rules that were being followed over three floors, only a handful of people were at risk of infection."

The mosque has since re-opened following a visit by the council’s public protection team to check it was Covid-19 safe.

Director of Public Health and Wellbeing at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Dominic Harrison, said: "The council and Public Health England work closely together on outbreak management whenever a case like this arises which it will during the pandemic in many different community settings such as workplaces, places of worship, care homes and schools.

"We have praised the mosque for the exemplary way they acted when the incident came to light.

"We need all of our settings in the borough to act in a similar responsible manner like this and do testing to help us stop the spread of the virus."