Emma Graham-Harrison 15 hrs ago
Muslims worldwide prepared to celebrate Eid under lockdown, with the strictest governments bringing in 24-hour curfews for the holiday – but across the world the slow march is continuing out of coronavirus quarantine.
For the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, China said it had recorded no new cases of the virus; Spain joined Greece in saying it would be reopening to foreign tourists from July, and also said its football league would start again next month.
There was positive news from Africa, with World Health Organization’s office for the continent saying that the pandemic “appears to be taking a different pathway in Africa”. It has taken 14 weeks for the continent to reach 100,000 cases, and mortality rates have been lower than in Europe and the US.
Swift action to close borders and bring in lockdowns, as well as the continent’s relatively youthful demography – with more than 60% of the population under 25 – may have helped slow the spread of the virus and limit its impact.
“For now Covid-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“It is possible our youth dividend is paying off and leading to fewer deaths. But we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”
The global toll now stands at more than 5.2m cases and 339,000 deaths. Over a quarter of all confirmed infections and fatalities are in the United States; the UK has the second highest death toll; while Russia has the second highest number of cases.
In India, where case numbers are still rising two months into a lockdown, the government has pledged to organise special trains to get at least 3.6 million stranded migrant workers back to their homes. Many have walked hundreds of miles to escape cities where work abruptly dried up.
Muslims this weekend will celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, but the coronavirus has cast a long shadow over one of year’s most important holidays. Normally a time to gather with friends and family, this year millions will be confined to their homes, worried about work, or without it.