In The Name of Allah The All-Merciful The Beneficent
The office of His Eminence Sayed Ali Al-Sistani (May Allah Prolong His Life)
Assalamu ‘alykum wa rahmat’llahi wa barakatuh
Answer: The necessity of fasting the month of Ramadan is an individual assignment. Every person who fulfills the conditions of obligation must fast, regardless of whether it is obligatory for others or not. If the holy month of Ramadan comes by and a Muslim fears that he may contract the virus due to fasting, even if he takes all precautionary measures, then his obligation for fasting is waived for each day in which he fears that fasting may result in him contracting the virus. However, if a Muslim is capable of lowering the risk of contracting the virus by staying at home and avoiding contact with others, by wearing a protective mask, by wearing medical gloves and through continuous sterilization and so on then he is required to fast, granted this does not cause any harm to him.
As for what was mentioned regarding several doctors recommending to drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration of the body and throat because this increases the possibility of infection with the Corona virus. Whether this is true or not, a Muslim is still required to fast unless he fears that fasting may result in him contracting the virus.
Note that it is possible to avoid body dehydration while fasting by eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in water such as cucumbers and watermelons before dawn. It is also possible to avoid having a dry throat by chewing sugar-free gum, provided that its parts in the mouth are not crumbling and going down the throat. Chewing gum increases salivary secretion in the mouth and it is permissible to swallow that saliva while fasting.
Thus, it appears that those who can leave work during the month of Ramadan and stay at home so that they are safe from the disease do not lose their obligation to fast. As for those who cannot afford to leave their jobs for any given reason and are afraid of contracting the virus while not drinking water throughout the day and are unable to take any other measures to protect themselves from the virus, then they are not required to fast. However, it is not permitted for a Muslim to show others that they are not fasting, whether it be by eating or drinking in public.
In short, it is obligatory to fast during the holy month of Ramadan. However, this obligation is lifted if a Muslim has a legitimate excuse, such as being ill, or is afraid of contracting the virus after receiving medical advice confirming that fasting without taking precautionary measures will increase the likelihood of contracting the virus. Otherwise, all Muslims are required to fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
May Allah protect you all from all harm and tribulation and assalamu ‘alykum wa rahmatu’llahi wa barakatuh.
The Office of Al-Sayed Al-Sistani
The Holy City of Najaf
Sha’ban 17, 1441 A.H.