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Rabat – As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, COVID-19 and related government restrictions appear set to again dampen festive spirits.
With days left until the start of Ramadan, the traditional month of fasting and feasting in the Islamic world, governments are announcing new measures against COVID-19. New cases continue to emerge, along with new mutations and variants of the virus, prompting painful restrictive measures that reduce contact between family members.
From Morocco to Indonesia, the virus continues to worry public health officials. Ahead of Ramadan, governments feel the need to restrict movement among citizens in fear of a new wave of COVID-19 infections that could threaten months of progress.
The continued threat of COVID-19 to Muslims across the world was emphasized by the sheer amount of new cases detected over the past 24 hours. In the Maghreb, Tunisia is the worst affected country currently with 1,833 new cases discovered, followed by Libya (869), Morocco (635), and Algeria where 112 new cases were discovered.
In the Middle East, nations similarly struggle to contain the spread. Iran is in the middle of a fourth wave of infections, with 22,586 cases reported on Friday while Turkey has recorded 55,941 new cases. Saudi Arabia, home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, reported 902 new cases as well as announcing new restrictions on the Umrah pilgrimage as well as visits to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
War-torn countries in the region are struggling to provide any true solution to the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan. Iraq reported 7,817 cases, while in Syria and Yemen the true scale of the local epidemic remains hidden as large-scale testing is virtually impossible.
Cash-strapped countries such as Lebanon continue to be at the mercy of foreign aid to stem the crisis, but even the wealthiest countries continue to record high numbers of new cases. The UAE, where a national vaccination campaign is well under way, reported 2,112 new cases to the WHO, while Kuwait reported another 1,379 cases.
For Muslims in India, who are a frequent target of state-driven Islamophobia, the month of Ramadan is set to be a scary time, with new mutations emerging amid a large national crisis. India reported 131,968 new cases to the WHO over the past 24 hours, dampening any festive spirit.
In Indonesia, the largest majority Muslim country in the world, new cases continue to be recorded in the thousands. Over the past 24 hours, Indonesia recorded 5,504 new cases, but many fear the scale of the epidemic is much larger amid a controversial government approach. The nation of 17,000 islands is still the worst affected country in South-East Asia.
With Ramadan only days away, the Muslim world is set to face another isolated Ramadan as government aim to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.