Global coronavirus caseload crosses 5.3 mark, Muslims mark Eid al-Fitr under lockdown
Over 5,311,624 cases of coronavirus infection have now been reported worldwide, as well as at least 342,105 deaths.
The Muslim world, meanwhile, is celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, with many counties having introduced new restrictions to prevent infections at large religious gatherings.
Separately, United Nations (UN) agencies have warned that the pandemic threatens some 80 million infants with vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, diphtheria, and poliomyelitis due to the disruption of routine immunization.
The followings are updates about the pandemic from around the globe:
Countries from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia have restricted large religious gatherings, as millions of Muslims have begun celebrating one of the happiest times on their calendar, Eid al-Fitr, under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Indonesia closes mosques
Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, has banned congregational prayers at mosques and open fields and restricted family reunions during the three-day holidays.
The country, with more than 240 million people, has so far reported nearly 21,745 cases of COVID-19, and 1,350 deaths.
Health officials reported 949 new cases on Sunday.
Iraq reports steepest single day rise in cases
Iraq has reported the largest single-day spike in cases of viral infection since late February, as the nation is celebrating Eid al-Fitr.
Health officials reported 308 new cases for Saturday, bringing the total tally to more than 4,200.
At least five people also died in Baghdad on Saturday, bringing the country’s total fatalities to 152.
The government had eased curfew hours during the month of Ramadan as well as the Eid holidays.
Crowds of people were seen at supermarkets and shops and in the streets getting prepared for the Eid celebration, which began on Sunday.
The Iraqi Health Ministry said the partial curfew would continue after the holiday.
Turkey under 24-hour lockdown during Eid
Turkey also imposed a 24-hour nationwide curfew for four days to keep people at home during the holiday.
Under the curfew, which came into effect in 81 Turkish provinces, markets and grocery stores will be closed from May 24 to 26.
On Sunday, however, a limited number of worshippers gathered at the Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque in the capital, Ankara, to hold the first congregational prayers in the country since March.
The government had already announced that it would allow prayers for Eid, amid continued social distancing measures.
The coronavirus outbreak killed 32 people and infected 1,186 others during the past 24 hours in Turkey.
The figures pushed the total cases to 55,686 and the total deaths to 4,308.
Limited number of worshipers allowed in Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Eid
In Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mosque of Mecca was reported to be largely empty during the Eid on Sunday, as authorities imposed unprecedented restrictions on public gatherings. Only a small number of worshipers were allowed to attend prayers in the holy mosque.
Saudi authorities said on Friday that mosques would remain closed for the holiday, calling on Muslims to celebrate the Eid at home.
The Saudi Arabia reported 2,442 new cases and 15 more deaths on Sunday.
Those pushed the total number of cases to 70,161 and the death toll to 379.
Singapore reports over 540 new cases
Singapore has confirmed 548 new cases, said the health ministry on Sunday, taking the tally of infections to 31,616. The city-state has had 23 deaths so far.
Egypt extends curfew hours for Eid
Egypt bolstered a nationwide curfew for the three-day Eid holiday, expanding stay-at-home hours from 05:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m. local time.
During Ramadan, the curfew would have started at 09:00 pm.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said the restrictions would likely be extended to mid-June.
The North African country has reported more than 13,000 cases and 659 deaths so far.
A study, however, said in March that the true number of cases could be much higher.
Pandemic disrupts global immunization system
In another development, UN agencies and the GAVI international vaccine alliance warned that 80 million children in at least 68 countries might be at risk of diphtheria, measles, and polio amid the pandemic crisis.
GAVI Chief Executive Seth Berkley said the pandemic had disrupted immunization efforts through travel restrictions, delivery delays, and parents’ fear of leaving home.
“If we neglect the supply chains and immunization infrastructure that keep these programs running, we also risk harming our ability to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine that represents our best chance of defeating this pandemic,” Berkley told reporters via a World Health Organization (WHO) conference call.
South Korea reports 25 new cases
South Korea on Sunday reported 25 new cases of COVID-19, taking the total number of infections in the country to 11,190.
Eight of the new cases came from overseas, and 17 were locally transmitted.
The death toll in South Korea remained unchanged at 266, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement.
China registers 3 new cases
China registered three new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection for Saturday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said Sunday.
This came a day after health officials detected no new cases, for the first time since the outbreak began in December last year.
Of the new cases, two were imported, and one was locally transmitted, the Chinese commission said.
With no additional deaths, mainland China’s total death toll remained at 4,638.
Brazil reports 965 more deaths, indigenous people dying at high rate
In Brazil, some 965 people lost their lives due to complications caused by the coronavirus on Saturday, taking the country’s overall death toll to 22,013, the Health Ministry said.
The country now has reported 347,398 confirmed cases, according to the ministry, up by 16,508 from Friday.
Brazil has already surpassed Russia in the number of cases and become the world’s second epicenter of the virus, after the United States.
Yet, the true number of patients and fatalities is believed to be higher than the official figures, as the government’s testing capacity still lags.
Amid the outbreak, the country’s indigenous people are dying at an alarming rate, as they are living in remote areas of the Amazon region with little access to healthcare and no help from the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
The indigenous community, with a population of 900,000, has had some 125 deaths and more than 980 confirmed cases of infection, according to advocacy group Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).
The figures suggest a mortality rate of 12.6 percent — compared to the national rate of 6.4 percent, according to APIB.
Other Latin American countries have also seen steep rises in cases, with Mexico having reported its biggest daily increase in confirmed cases of 3,329 on Saturday, Peru an increase of 4,056 cases, and Chile of 3,536.
Russia records highest daily death toll
Russia recorded another 153 deaths from COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours. The figure, which was the highest daily toll in Russia, pushed the total death toll in the country to 3,541 on Sunday.
Another 8,599 new cases of infection were also registered, taking the overall tally to 344,481.