Indonesia reported its highest number of daily cases of coronavirus as millions of people in the fourth most populous country in the world were preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr without the usual celebrations and gatherings.
This year’s festivities will be alleviated by economic hardship for many, as Indonesian migrant workers, who generally send money to their families, are stranded and have no income.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has banned people from returning home for their vacations, although thousands have reportedly made the trip this week, despite fears that this will further increase transmission.
Officials said the virus had spread at its fastest rate in the past nine days, in part due to a worsening epidemic in east Java.
The country reported 973 new infections on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 20,162. Authorities have asked the military and police to prevent arrivals to Jakarta until a reopening capital is allowed.
As of Friday, 5,101.97 cases of coronavirus were reported worldwide, with the United States having the highest number of infections. The outbreak of Brazil, which registered its highest number of deaths on Thursday, with 1,188 deaths. Brazil now has 310,087 recorded cases considered to be probably underestimated given the lack of testing in the country and has almost overtaken Russia to become the second most affected country behind the United States.
Around the world, many Muslim countries have said they will tighten restrictions this weekend for Eid, which marks the end of the holiest period on the Muslim calendar, the fasting month of Ramadan.
In Lebanon, an economic crisis that was already causing enormous hardship worsened as a result of the pandemic and left Muslims desperate at the start of Eid.
Even during the civil war, there was money and no one was starving, said an unemployed public bus driver, Mohammad, in Beirut. Now it’s just well-being. Who would have thought?
In Egypt, authorities are advancing the start of the existing coronavirus curfew from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. and banning all public transport for six days from Sunday. Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, the first city in the West Bank to be cordoned off due to a coronavirus epidemic, Palestinian authorities have declared that a lock will be re-enforced in the West Bank during the three days of the festival.
Authorities in Iran also warned people not to travel during the festival. Our biggest concern is to have new peaks of the disease in the country by not following health regulations, said Health Minister Saeed Namaki. I therefore ask the dear Iranian people … not to travel during the Eid al-Fitr holidays. New trips mean new Covid-19 infections, he said, quoted by the semi-official news agency ISNA.
The Ministry of Health has announced an additional 66 deaths and 2,392 cases of coronavirus infection in Iran, the deadliest epidemic in the Middle East.
For the most vulnerable, who have lost their jobs and are stranded away from home, the holiday period will be particularly difficult. Maizidah Salas, coordinator of the Indonesian Non-Profit Migrant Workers Union, said this year will be the saddest Eid for migrant workers and their families.
The festival is usually celebrated with parties, gifts and new clothing, and there is normally an increase in remittances sent by the millions of people who work abroad in casual construction and factories. This year, however, many saw their jobs cut, as businesses were forced to close.
Wasito, who works as a plumber Malaysia, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that he had not been paid his monthly salary of 2,500 ringgit ($ 575) during the six-week closure. Instead, he was forced to borrow money from his employer to eat.
I didn’t dare ask why I didn’t get paid because I don’t want to be fired and I am too embarrassed to borrow money for Eid, he said. My wife calls everyday and cries. We have to cancel Eid celebrations this year.
Other key developments around the world include: