Claims that Muslims caused Leicester’s Covid-19 outbreak are baseless

15 July 2020
What was claimed

Muslims failing to understand government messaging were responsible for Leicester’s local outbreak.

Our verdict

A failure to understand government messaging has been suggested as one factor contributing to Leicester’s outbreak, but it is not proven, far from the only possible factor and not limited to Muslims over any other community.

What was claimed

Muslims can’t use alcohol-based hand sanitiser as it is against their religion.

Our verdict

Incorrect. Many Muslims consider it permissible to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers. There has been no suggestion that sanitiser use contributed to the Leicester outbreak.

A screenshot shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims that Leicester went into local lockdown because Muslims living in the area didn’t understand government advice and didn’t use hand sanitiser because it was against their religion.

It is still too early to give a definitive explanation for why Leicester’s outbreak happened.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that a high number of cases in children prompted the lockdown. The Department of Health and Social Care told Leicester Live that it believed a rise in cases was due to “transmission within households, lower compliance with social distancing in the community, and workplace transmission may all be contributing to the current situation.”

The claim that Leicester’s outbreak happened due to Muslim residents not understanding messaging appears to have come from comments made by the Prime Minister and an article in the Mirror. The article says that some local sources say that a lack of translation of messaging contributed to the outbreak. The article does not specify religions. 

So factors related to the lack of understanding of government advice have been proposed as reasons why Leicester has seen an outbreak. However they aren’t proven, they aren’t the only factors proposed, and they haven’t been explicitly tied to any one community over another. 

As for hand sanitiser, there is no evidence to support the claim that Muslims use it less than other communities, or that use of hand sanitiser was a factor in the Leicester outbreak. 

Islam, like many religions, encompasses a number of different schools of thought, each of which may follow slightly different rules. So we can’t say for certain that there aren’t some Muslims who choose not to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, given that consuming alcohol is generally forbidden in the faith.

However, it has been stated multiple times over the years that hand sanitisers with alcohol are permitted for Muslims. 

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has issued guidance to wash hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser gel.

The MCB told Full Fact: “The issue of alcohol in Islam relates to the drinking of alcohol, and not its use in other ways, such as the disinfection of skin. Many Muslims believe it is permissible to use alcohol-based sanitisers for alleviating illness or improving health, particularly as this is a necessity in the current climate.”

Hand sanitisers with 60% alcohol content and above are effective against viruses, but soap and water is preferable

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