All public masses for the Christians will be suspended from tomorrow onwards, until the end of this month, amid the rising threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was relayed in a pastoral letter by the Catholic Bishops of Peninsular Malaysia, issued today.

"All weekend and weekday public masses will be suspended from 14th of March (or the 13th of March, if the state’s weekend begins on Friday) to the 29th of March 2020. This coincides with the public school holidays.

"We therefore exempt all Catholics from fulfilling their Sunday obligation of assisting/ attending Mass during this period. This exemption is a temporary measure in the face of the current crisis," read the statement, signed by Penang Bishop Rev.Sebastian Francis, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Rev. Julian Leow, and Rev.Bernard Paul, the Bishop of Malacca-Johore.

The situation will be monitored to gauge if the suspension period needs to be reviewed and extended beyond March 29, added the letter.

Similarly,all cathecism classes, programmes and activities, will also cease during the period.

"All meetings, gatherings, formations, RCIA sessions, fellowships and events in church or in the BEC are to be cancelled and put on hold during this period.

"Any weddings or funerals are to be conducted privately with guests limited to immediate family members and close friends. Please contact your parish priest for further details."

You can get more details on the suspensions here.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday declared COVID-19 as a pandemic.

The disease has affected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and killed more than 4,000.

In Malaysia, 149 people have been reportedly affected thus far.

Earlier today, the Health Ministry said all mass gatherings, including religious activities, should be postponed to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

This after a report yesterday that a Brunei man who had tested positive for COVID-19 had attended a tabligh gathering at the Seri Petaling mosque in Kuala Lumpur from Feb 27 to March 1, along with 10,000 others.

At least 5,000 Malaysian participants were also part at the assembly and state health departments are now conducting probe and contact tracing.