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Pandemic grows, most Muslim states usher in Ramadan under lockdown

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 26 April 2020 9:59 AM

Global coronavirus cases are expected to hit 3 million in a few days, and the death toll from COVID-19 has passed the 200,000 mark, according to a Reuters tally.

More than half of the fatalities linked to the virus have been reported in the United States, Spain, and Italy.

The virus first emerged in China late last year and quickly spread to the rest of the world.

The United States, which is the worst hit country in the world, has reported more than 52,400 deaths as of Saturday morning.

Italy, Spain, and France have reported between 22,000 and 26,000 deaths each.

More than 7,000 deaths have been reported in Asia and Latin America, each.

The Middle East has reported upwards of 8,800, and Africa's current recorded fatality toll is around 1,350, according to Reuters.

The true figure, however, is expected to be higher, as many governments have not included deaths recorded in nursing homes and other locations outside hospitals in their tallies.

The global death toll continues to grow at a rate of 3-4 percent, and currently 2,921,439 known cases of the disease have been reported.

In Europe, some of the hardest-hit countries have now started easing strict lockdown restrictions.

Spain allows outdoor exercises for kids

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday that his government had decided to loosen lockdown restrictions at different speeds across different regions.

The move came as figures confirmed that the daily death toll was running well below the peak seen early this month.

"We will not suddenly recover activity across all sectors," Sanchez said. "The de-escalation has to be gradual and asymmetric... We won't all advance at the same pace but we will follow the same rules."

For the first time since a state of emergency was declared in mid-March, children under 14 will be allowed one hour of supervised outdoor activity per day between from Sunday.

The Spanish Health Ministry said 378 more people died on Saturday, compared to 367 on Friday.

Cumulative deaths rose to 22,902, and the overall number of cases rose to 223,759 from 219,764 the day before.

France set to relax restrictions

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is also set to present the government's plan to unwind the country's lockdown to parliament on Tuesday, according to his office.

His statement next week will be followed by a debate and a vote.

The lockdown ordered by President Emmanuel Macron on March 17 is due to be lifted on May 11.

France has so far reported 124, 000 cases of infection and 22,614 deaths.

World Muslims mark Ramadan under COVID-19 lockdown

The health crisis has forced authorities to impose unprecedented restrictions and caused the world's Muslim population to start the holy month of Ramadan under lockdown.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from morning until the evening and typically go to mosques to pray.

The health crisis has now changed that with curbs on large gatherings for prayers and public iftars, or meals to break the fast.

In Saudi Arabia, Mecca's Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina – Islam's two holiest sites – will remain closed to the public during the fasting month.

"It pains me to welcome the glorious month of Ramadan under circumstances that forbid us from prayers in mosques," Saudi King Salman said.

In Jerusalem al-Quds, the al-Aqsa Mosque was also empty of worshippers in the beginning of the holy month.

Normally, tens of thousands of Muslims would gather in the mosque and in the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Israeli occupied city every day during Ramadan.

India, Pakistan ease some restrictions

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan started to ease restrictions for some businesses, allowing shops in residential areas to reopen from Saturday.

India has reported 24,942 cases of coronavirus infection and 779 deaths.

Pakistan extended a nationwide lockdown until May 9, but switched to a "smart lockdown" from Saturday with targeted tracking of cases.

It also allowed some industrial and commercial activities to resume under safety guidelines.

Prayer congregations for Ramadan have been allowed in the country with the exception of the southern province of Sindh, where doctors have warned the virus could spread rapidly.

Pakistan has so far reported 11,940 cases, along with 253 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Indonesia calls on people to pray at home

Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population and Asia's highest coronavirus toll outside China, called on people to work and pray at home.

The country has reported 8,607 cases of COVID-19 and 720 deaths.

Singapore reports 619 more cases

Singapore reported an additional 618 cases on Saturday, according to its health ministry.

To date, the country has reported a total of 12,693 cases and 12 deaths.

China reports 11 new cases, no deaths

China reported 11 new confirmed cases on Saturday, according to the National Health Commission.

Six new cases were attributed to travelers coming from overseas.

No additional deaths were reported.

The latest figure brings the country's total cases to 82,827, along with a total 4,632 deaths.

In another development in China, health officials said Wuhan, the first epicenter of the disease, now had no remaining cases in its hospitals.

National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said at a briefing on Sunday that "the number of new coronavirus patients in Wuhan was at zero, thanks to the joint efforts of Wuhan and medical staff from around the country."

The city had reported 46,452 cases, 56 percent of the national total. It saw 3,869 fatalities, or 84 percent of China's total.

Australia launches controversial app to track COVID-19 cases

Australia has now launched a controversial application to identify and trace people beyond physical distance restrictions.

The government called on people to download the app Covidsafe on their smartphone, but said that it would not be mandatory.

The app will enable health officials in each state and territory to access the list of the users' contacts.

That has sparked concerns about the privacy of those using the app, which will store 21 days of data of the users.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was not his "preferred option," but described it as a necessary step to relaxing restrictions.

Australia has reported a total of 6,711 cases and 83 deaths.

South Korea reports 10 cases, 2 deaths

South Korea reported 10 new cases and two deaths, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those brought the nation's total tally to 10,728 cases and 242 deaths.

Japan detects 150 new cases on Italian cruise ship

Japanese officials have detected 57 new cases of the viral infection among the crew members of an Italian cruise ship that was docked in southwestern Japan for repair and maintenance since February.

The new figure brings the total number of cases on board the Costa Atlantica to 148.

The vessel, with 623 crew members and no passengers on board, has docked in the Nagasaki Prefecture.

Those who have tested negative will be sent to their home nations as soon as possible, according to officials.

The infection cluster on board the vessel comes as Japan is facing a national tally of above 13,000 cases. Some 350 people have so far died of COVID-19 complications across the country.

Canada 'not presuming patients develop immunity'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday that provincial plans to reopen their economy do not depend on presuming that the people who have been infected with the virus develop immunity to it.

His remarks came after the World Health Organization (WHO) said that there was "no evidence" that people who have recovered from the viral infection and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

Trudeau said provincial plans focused on preventing the spread through social distancing and protective equipment in workplaces.

He also said measures would differ as infection rates vary among provinces, but require national coordination.

The death toll in Canada rose by seven percent to 2,350 on Saturday from a day earlier. The total number of cases also reached more than 44,000.

Argentina extends nationwide restrictions for 2 more weeks

Meanwhile, Argentina extended its nationwide social, preventative, and mandatory isolation measures until May 10.

The government, however, will ease some restrictions such as allowing people to take short walks outside their homes, Reuters reported.

The Argentinian Health Ministry has confirmed 3,780 cases and 185 deaths.

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