This year, the Eid al-Fitr celebrations are silenced.
The normally happy Eid al-Fitr holiday begins this weekend – in a Muslim world where many governments have imposed restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. This means that the local prayers, parties and parties that usually mark the occasion are limited or scrapped.
In Indonesia, where the number of coronavirus cases has risen sharply in recent days, Islamic leaders have encouraged Muslims to celebrate the holiday, ending the holy month of Ramadan, without gathering for traditional iftar dinners to break the fast on Saturday night. And the country̵
In Bangladesh, the government has banned the huge municipal Eid prayers that normally take place in open fields, saying that worshipers must be gathered in mosques. It also asked people not to shake hands or hug each other after praying, and told children, the elderly and anyone who is sick to stay away from communal prayers.
As for the mosques themselves, the government has said they must be is disinfected before and after each Eid collection and that all growers must wear hand sanitizer and wear masks while praying. Joynal Abedin, press secretary for President Abdul Hamid, told The New York Times that Mr. Hamid would hold his own prayers in a conference room in his office.
Samima Akter, 36, who lives near the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, said she left home to go Eid to shop earlier this month with a mask. But the experience was stressful, she added, because many did not follow the government’s advice on social distance.
“This year is not a nice Eid at all, as this virus is a life and death issue for every person in the country,” she said.
In neighboring India have imams and community leaders urged people to stay home and follow social distance standards. Many cities have upheld their curfew from 6 p.m. 7 to 7.
And in the Indian city of Lucknow, which is known for its kebabs, the slaughterhouses are closed amid a restriction on meat sales which came into force in March.
Mohammed Raees Qureshi, who owns two slaughterhouses in Lucknow, said he hoped – to no avail – that local officials would allow him to open at least a couple of days around Eid.
“If they were to give us any guidelines, we would make sure to follow them,” he said. “But right now it’s just silence.”
As the United States continues its progress toward 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a difficult milestone expected in the coming days, President Trump and members of his administration have begun to question the official coronavirus death toll, which suggests the numbers are inflated.
Last Friday, Trump told reporters that he accepted the current death toll, but that the numbers may be “lower than” the official number, which is now over 95,000.
But most Statistics and public health experts say the death toll is probably much higher than is generally known. People die in their homes and nursing homes without being tested, they say, and deaths at the beginning of the year were likely misidentified as influenza or just described as pneumonia.
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House corona virus response coordinator, has said publicly that the US health care system contains a generous definition of a death caused by Covid-19.
“There are other countries like you had a previous condition and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem – some countries register it as a heart disease or kidney problem and not a death from Covid- 19, she said at a news conference at the White House last month.
In a brief interview on Thursday, Dr. Birx said there had been no pressure to change the data. But concerns about official statistics are not limited to the death or administrative officials.
Epidemiologists said they were surprised to learn that C.D.C. was to combine data from tests that detect active infection with those that detect recovery from Covid-19 – a system that teaches the image of the pandemic but raises the proportion of Americans tested when Mr. Trump boasts of testing.
Experts said that data from antibody and active virus tests should never be mixed.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida. “We are all really puzzled.”
Epidemiologists, state health officials and a spokeswoman for C.D.C. said there was no ill intent; they attributed the erroneous reporting system to confusion and fatigue in overworked states and local health departments that usually track infections – not tests – during outbreaks.
The Coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with the energy markets. Last month, the price of US crude oil fell compared to zero when the economy closed and demand fell.
And this weekend, a UK utility company will actually pay some of its home consumers to use electricity – to connect the appliances and run them fully.
So-called negative electricity prices usually show up in the wholesale markets, when a large electricity user such as a factory or a water treatment plant is paid to consume more power. Having too much power on the line can lead to damaged equipment or even blackouts.
Negative prices were once relatively rare, but during the pandemic they have suddenly become almost routine in the UK, Germany and other European countries.
In the UK, the price of power fell to negative territory 66 times in April, more than twice as often as a previous month in the past decade, according to Iain Chappell, university lecturer in sustainable energy at Imperial College London. The reason for these dips is similar to what caused it the price of oil to be thrown out: oversupply meets a collapse in demand.
The price environment below zero allows at least one innovative British power trader, called Octopus Energy, to offer some of their customers 2 pence to 5 pence per kilowatt-hour for electricity they consume during periods of low demand, expected on Sunday.
“This has to be the norm,” said Greg Jackson, the company’s founder and CEO, who said the pandemic in the UK offered a preview of “what the future will look like” around the world.
In recent weeks, renewable energy sources have played an increasingly important role in the European power system, while the burning of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, has decreased.
Such a big drop is of course good news for dealing with climate change. But the combination of low demand and high levels of wind and solar-generated electricity is a major change that electricity system operators are struggling to manage.
China on Saturday reported no new coronavirus deaths or symptomatic cases, the first time that both speakers were zero on any given day since the country’s outbreak began. But in the city of Wuhan, the original episode of the outbreak, the virus is still high on the inhabitants’ minds.
Over the past two weeks, thousands of Wuhan’s 11 million residents have stood in line outside rows of tents in the neighboring steps. They have been waiting to get their noses and throats swollen after the government announced an ambitious plan to test everyone in the city for the virus.
The so-called The “10-day battle,” which began on May 14, is a driving force from the government to get a more accurate picture of the epidemic in Wuhan, most crucial for people who have the virus but show no symptoms. Some public health experts are closely watching the campaign to see if it can form a model for other governments that want to return their communities to a certain level of normality.
“If you can quickly establish that a particular area is free from disease, it will give people more confidence to go out,” said Raina MacIntyre, director of the biosafety program at the Kirby Institute of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia .
In reality, Wuhan’s “10-day fight” is not as rigid as some reports have suggested. Neighborhoods have postponed their start date. Many residents seemed to support the tests, which are free. But others declined and feared they could be infected again while waiting for tests.
Between May 14 and May 20, about 3 million residents in Wuhan were tested, according to the authority’s data. Ninety-nine of them had no symptoms.
In some districts, local officials went door-to-door to register residents and flocked them to nearby test stations. The organizers handed out flyers and announced speakers and social media and invited residents to register.
The test run mobilized thousands of healthcare workers. A nurse, who had worked from 9 to 16 without a lunch break, was caught on video fast.
He changed his blazer and tie for the uncomfortable fit for personal protective equipment and left the boardroom for the emergency room at Lisbon’s military hospital.
There, when a doctor pressed to work in the coronavirus pandemic, he met with fever, coughed patients and helped arrange their care. However, some of them had a curious question.
“From just looking into my eyes, they would say, ‘Hey, aren’t you the president of the sport? Can I have a selfie?'”
Frederico Varandas is really chairman of the Sporting Clube de Portugal, one of the country’s biggest football teams. He is also Dr. Frederico Varandas, a reserve military physician who completed a tour of Afghanistan a decade ago before switching careers.
Dr. Varandas, 40, was recently on call at the hospital for about six weeks and worked 12-hour shifts and treated military personnel and their families. His primary task was to test and evaluate the patients when they arrived, before handing them over more seriously to his colleagues in the intensive care unit.
He is not the only sports figure pressed into medical service in the global fight against the virus. In Canada, for example, Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in hockey turned medical student, has been collect protective equipment for workers and also help track the spread of the virus.
Despite the unexpected, Dr. Be assured that his medical service was fulfilled.
“The sport had stopped in Portugal and I thought I was more important to the country working as a doctor,” he said.
It was not clear what authority President Trump called on Friday as he marched into the White House information room, asking the states “to have our churches and services open right now.” He threatened to “override” all governors who did not.
Trump explained that they are “essential” operations for worship and said they should be allowed to hold services personally over the weekend, regardless of state quarantine orders stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 96,000 people in the United States.
“The governors must do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend,” Trump said, reading from a prepared text before leaving after about a minute without asking. “If they don’t, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less. “
The White House could not explain what power the president actually has to override the governors, and legal experts said he did not have such authority, but he could take states to court on religious freedom grounds, which can be time consuming. Attorney General William P. Barr, a strong advocate for religious rights, has already been threatens legal action against California.
In California, more than 1,200 pastors signed a declaration protesting the state’s restrictions on personal services and pledged to open their churches by May 31, even though restrictions were not lifted. Govin Newsom, a Democrat, said on Friday that the state was working with faith leaders for guidelines to reopen in a safe and responsible way, which he said would be released by Monday.
Elian Peltier covered the coronavirus pandemic in Spain before returning to his native France. We asked him to tell us about a visit to his grandparents.
When France was shut down in March, my mother was relieved. Her parents were in a nursing home, and with travel restrictions suddenly in place, she and her sister could no longer drive 80 miles south of Paris every weekend to visit them.
At least in the home, my grandparents would get the care they needed.
Then the virus slipped into the nursing home and relief turned to alarm. Had a measure to protect my grandparents instead condemned them?
So began a long awakening of daily conversations, weekly video chats and custom postcards created online.
When I told my grandfather about reporting in Spain, I omitted the mention of the bodies that were taken out of apartment buildings in Barcelona and about health care professionals in health clothes that disinfected nursing homes in isolated villages. It felt better to update him on the uncertain fate of European football leagues and to remind us of our penalty kicks in his garden in Beaugency, where I spent my summers as a child.
Coronavirus has killed about 14,000 residents in France’s nursing home – half of the country’s death toll. We are fortunate that so far none of these deaths occurred in my grandparents and homes, where caregivers were vigilant about social distance.
When France started to relax last week, we could finally visit, or rather sit outside the home, when my grandparents sat inside, a few meters away. In order for us to hear each other, the staff opened the door, but placed a table with a plexiglass partition in the door.
We could only see my grandparents one at a time, as they are in different parts of the home that can no longer be socially mixed. My grandfather, a former stone mason, lacks many things we can’t deliver yet, like shorts, because of the strict rules of the home. It’s my grandmother’s company he misses most.
My grandmother, once a wonderful cook known to her chicken basquaise and cherry cakes, have Alzheimer’s. When she struggled to recognize me, I broke the rules and took down my mask for a second. A nurse gently caressed her hair while we talked. My mom and I were a little jealous that the nurse could do what we couldn’t.
Currently, I plan to finally read my grandfather’s magazines about his military service in Chad when he was around my age. He gave them to me at Christmas; I thought I had plenty of time to read them. That was before he got a stroke, and before the pandemic created a new normal.
Pandemics are often described as communication crises, when leaders must convince the entire population to shut down their lives because of an invisible threat. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern from New Zealand stands out for that – by illuminating the epidemiology of empathy and making legal issues with mother-jokes.
It has been strikingly effective.
Ardern helped coax New Zealanders – “our team of five million,” she says – to buy a lockdown so serious that even retrieving a lost cricket ball from a neighboring yard was prohibited. Now, despite some early struggles with contact tracking, the country has almost wiped out the virus and left isolation with only 21 deaths and a few dozen active cases.
Halos can make heretics out of legitimate critics, including epidemiologists who claim that New Zealand’s lockdown went too far, that other countries suppressed the virus with less damage to small businesses.
And Ardern’s canonization diminishes two powerful forces behind her success: Her own hard work for making connections with constituents, and the political culture of New Zealand, which in the 1990s revised how it votes, and forged a system that forces political parties to work together .
“You need the whole context, in the way the political system has evolved,” said Helen Clark, a former prime minister who hired Ardern as an adviser more than a decade ago. “It’s not easy to transfer.”
Coronavirus takes a “different path” in Africa compared to its path in other regions, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
The mortality rate is lower in Africa than elsewhere, W.H.O. said, theorizing that the continent’s young population could stand for it.
The virus has reached all 55 countries on the continent, which recently confirmed its 100,000th case, with 3,100 deaths. When Europe’s infection count reached that point, it had registered 4,900 deaths.
“For the moment, Covid-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the large number of deaths that have destroyed other regions of the world,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the organization’s regional head of Africa.
More than 60 percent of people in Africa are under the age of 25, and Covid-19 hits elderly populations particularly hard. In Europe, around 95 percent of virus deaths have been among those 60 and older.
Many health experts have questioned WHO’s numbers, but say that most African countries’ testing capabilities are extremely limited – partly because they are struggling to get the diagnostic equipment they need – and that deaths due to Covid-19 are too low.
In some places, they say, low official figures for cases and deaths mask a much more serious reality.
In Kano, a busy commercial hub in Northern Nigeria, the official number of confirmed cases is low, but so is the number of samples it can test. Gravediggers report that they bury many more bodies than usual, and doctors say that Covid-19 deaths are almost certainly caused, but few of them are tested before burial.
“Most people who are dying are in the 60s and over, and most of them have other conditions,” such as hypertension or diabetes, says Prof. Yusuf Adamu, medical geographer in Kano. He said many residents seemed to have mild symptoms, but often failed to test.
The strongman leader in Chechnya, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin, is hospitalized with possible symptoms of the coronavirus, news agencies say. A spokesman suggests that he only keeps a low profile because he “thinks.”
Uncertainty about the health of the leaders, Ramzan Kadyrov, has broad implications, and comes just as the virus shakes the volatile and predominantly Muslim Caucasus region of southern Russia.
Even the very status of Chechnya as part of Russia – contested in two wars during the Soviet era – revolves in no small part on the close ties between Mr. Kadyrov and Mr. Putin.
Official figures are still low – Chechnya has reported 1,046 cases of the virus and 11 deaths – but daily signs are showing that tolls across the Caucasus is much larger and growing.
The pandemic seems to hit the neighboring Republic Dagestan harder. Mr Putin held an unusual one TV video conference with Dagestani leaders this week, warning that traditional celebrations mark the end of Ramadan this weekend posed a threat.
A leading pastor, Mufti Akhmad Abdulayev, told Putin during the call that more than 700 people had died there, including 50 medical workers.
Overall, Russia has reported 326,448 coronavirus cases, the second highest sum in the world. The government insists that its relatively low number of deaths – 3,249 – is correct, although total mortality rates indicate a higher total.
On Thursday, Tobi Lütke, the founder and CEO of Ottawa-based Shopify, announced on Twitter that most of his company’s 5,000 employees had become permanent home workers.
It came on the same day as a similar announcement from Facebook, and it followed the remote-working features of Twitter and OpenText, a cornerstone of Canada’s technology industry based in Waterloo, Ontario.
Shopify, the most valuable company on the Canadian stock exchange, provides products and services that allow small and medium-sized retailers to move online, a popular way for those pandemic-obsessed.
In the post-pandemic world, the company’s Canadian offices will become the “recruitment hub” and places where employees can meet in person when needed.
In addition, it seems unpleasant for anyone who still has a job to complain about where they perform their duties. But for many people, remote work is an unwelcome news.
When India introduced a national lockdown on March 25, thousands of thousands of migrant workers, unemployed, long, treacherous journeys from India’s cities, often began on foot.
But Mohan Paswan, a rickshaw driver from a lower part of India’s caste system, had been injured in a traffic accident in January and could barely walk. He and his 15-year-old daughter, Jyoti Kumari, had no transportation and almost no money when they looked to get home from New Delhi to their village, halfway across India.
Their saving was a $ 20 purple bike purchased with the last of their savings. Beginning on May 8, Jyoti trampled for 700 miles with his father on his back and delivered them both safely home last weekend.
Many days they had some food. They slept at gas stations. They lived by strange generosity. Cycling wasn’t easy. Her father is big and he carries a bag. Sometimes people tormented them and upset him.
The national press has taken hold of Jyoti’s emotional history the “lion-hearted.”
On Thursday, the Cycling Federation of India, which scouts young talent and sends the best to international competitions, including the Olympics, Jyoti tracked through a journalist and invited her to New Delhi for a test with the national team.
Reached by phone on Friday in his village Sirhulli, in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, Jyoti said in a scrawny, exhausted voice: “I am excited, I really want to go.”
This is how you have a safer Memorial Day weekend.
This is the Memorial Day weekend in the United States, as beaches and barbecue in the garden beckon. Although many sites continue to open again, you should still not gather in groups – but since many people come, here is some guidance to reduce the risk of coronavirus.
Reporting was contributed by Tariq Panja, Stanley Reed, Ian Austen, Julfikar Ali Manik, Shalini Venugopal, Richard C. Paddock, Mike Ives, Anton Troianovski, Jeffrey Gettleman, Suhasini Raj, Damien Cave, Peter Baker, Michael Cooper, Sui-Lee Wee, Louis Lucero, Jennifer Jett, Jin Wu, Elian Peltier, Maggie Haberman, Noah Weiland, Abby Goodnough, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sheila Kaplan and Sarah Mervosh.