This year, the festivities of Eid al-Fitr will be muted.
Eid al-Fitr's normally happy 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 prayers, feasts and common holidays that generally mark the occasion are restricted or deleted.
In Indonesia, where the number of cases of coronavirus has increased sharply in recent days, Islamic leaders have encouraged Muslims to celebrate the holiday, which ends the holy month of Ramadan, without coming together for traditional dinners of the day. iftar to break their fast on Saturday evening. And the country's largest mosque, the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, plans to offer televised prayers on Sunday.
In Bangladesh, the government has banned the huge communal Eid prayers that normally take place in open fields, saying that congregants should gather inside mosques. He also asked people not to shake hands or kiss each other after praying, and told children, the elderly, and anyone who is sick not to pray together.
As for the mosques themselves, the government has said that they should be disinfected before and after each Eid meeting, and that all worshipers should wear hand sanitizer and wear masks during prayer. Joynal Abedin, press secretary to President Abdul Hamid, told the New York Times that Mr. Hamid would perform his own prayers in a conference room in his offices.
Samima Akter, 36, who lives near the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, said she left home to shop for Eid earlier this month with a mask. But the experience was stressful, she added, as many people did not follow government advice on social distancing.
"This year is not a pleasant Eid at all, because this virus is a life and death problem for everyone in the country," she said.
In neighboring India, imams and community leaders have urged people to stay home and follow standards of social distancing. Many cities have maintained their curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
And in the Indian town of Lucknow, known for its kebabs, butcher shops are closed due to a restriction on meat sales that went into effect in March.
Mohammed Raees Qureshi, who owns two butcher shops in Lucknow, said he had hoped – in vain – that local authorities would allow him to open around Eid for at least a few days.
"If they gave us directions, we would make sure to follow them," he said. "But right now, there is only silence."
As the U.S. continues to progress towards 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a dark stage Expected in the coming days, President Trump and members of his administration have begun to question the official death toll from coronavirus, suggesting that the numbers are inflated.
Trump said on Friday that he accepts the current death toll, but that the figures could be "lower" than the official tally, which is now over 95,000.
But the most statisticians and public health experts say the death toll is probably much higher than what is known to the public. People are dying at home and in retirement homes without being tested, they say, and the deaths earlier this year were probably misidentified as influenza or described only as pneumonia.
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, has publicly stated that the U.S. healthcare system incorporates a generous definition of death from Covid-19.
"There are other countries that, if you had a preexisting condition, and say the virus made you go to intensive care and then have a heart or kidney problem – some countries record this as a heart problem or a kidney problem and not a Covid-19 death, "she said at a White House press conference last month.
In a brief interview Thursday, Dr. Birx pointed out that there had been no pressure to change the data. But concerns about official statistics aren't limited to the number of dead or administration officials.
Epidemiologists said they were amazed to learn that the C.D.C. combined data from tests that detect active infection with those that detect recovery from Covid-19 – a system that blurs the picture of the pandemic but increases the percentage of Americans tested as Mr. Trump boasts of tests.
Experts said that data from antibody tests 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 taken aback."
Epidemiologists, public health officials and spokesperson for the C.D.C. says there was no bad intention; They attributed the faulty reporting system to confusion and fatigue in overworked local and local health departments that usually follow infections – not tests – during epidemics.
The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the energy markets. Last month, the benchmark US crude oil price fell below zero as the economy closed and demand plunged.
And this weekend, a UK utility will actually pay some of its residential consumers to use the electricity – to plug the devices in and get them going.
So-called negative electricity prices generally appear in the wholesale electricity markets, when a heavy user of electricity such as a factory or a processing plant water is paid to consume more electricity. Having too much power on the line could result in equipment damage or even power outages.
Negative prices were once relatively rare, but during the pandemic they suddenly became almost routine in Britain, Germany and other European countries.
Electricity prices in Britain plunged into negative territory 66 times in April, more than twice as often as in the last month of the past decade, says lecturer Iain Chappell in sustainable energy at Imperial College London. The reason for these dips is similar to what caused the oil prices to plunge: excess supply responding to a collapse in demand.
The sub-zero price environment allows at least one innovative British electricity retailer, called Octopus Energy, to offer to pay some of its customers 2 pence to 5 pence per kilowatt hour for the electricity they consume during periods of low demand, as expected on Sunday.
"This must become normal," said Greg Jackson, founder and chief executive officer of the company, who said that the pandemic in Britain offered a glimpse of "what the future will look like" across the world.
In recent weeks, renewable energy sources have been playing an increasingly important role in the European electricity system, while at the same time burning coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, has slipped .
Such a drop is, of course, good news for fighting climate change. But the combination of low demand and high levels of wind and solar electricity is a big change that grid operators are struggling to manage.
China reported no new coronavirus deaths or symptomatic cases on Saturday, the first time the two counts were zero on any given day since the start of the epidemic in the country. But in the city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the epidemic, the virus is still present in the minds of residents.
In the past two weeks, thousands of 11 million Wuhan residents have lined up in front of rows of tents in the alleys of the neighborhood. They were waiting to be rubbed in the nose and throat after the government announced an ambitious plan to test everyone in the city for the virus.
The said "10 day battle" which was launched on May 14, is a push from the government to get a truer picture of the epidemic in Wuhan, especially of people who have the virus but have no symptoms. Some public health experts are closely monitoring the campaign to see if it can serve as a model for other governments who wish to bring their society back to a certain level of normalcy.
"If you can quickly establish that a particular area is disease-free, it will give people more confidence to get out," said Raina MacIntyre, who heads the biosafety program at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. .
In reality, Wuhan's "10 day battle" is not as rigid as some reports suggest. The districts have postponed their start dates. Many residents seemed supportive of the tests, which are free. But others refused, fearing they might be infected again while waiting for the tests.
Between May 14 and May 20, about 3 million residents of Wuhan were tested, according to government data. Ninety-nine of them had no symptoms.
In some districts, local authorities went door to door to register residents and took them to nearby test stations. The organizers distributed flyers and made announcements on loudspeakers and on social networks to encourage residents to register.
The test campaign mobilized thousands of health workers. A nurse, who had worked from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. without a lunch break, was filmed sobbing.
He swapped his blazer and tie for the uncomfortable cut of personal protective equipment and left the conference room for the emergency room of the Lisbon Military Hospital.
There, while a doctor was on duty in the coronavirus pandemic, he faced feverish and coughing patients and helped align their care. However, some of them had a curious question.
"Just looking at my eyes, they said," Hey, aren't you the sports president? Can I have a selfie? »»
Frederico Varandas is indeed the president of Sporting Clube de Portugal, one of the largest football teams in the country. He is also Dr. Frederico Varandas, a reserve military doctor who toured Afghanistan ten years ago before changing careers.
Dr. Varandas, 40, was recently on call at the hospital for about six weeks, working 12-hour shifts to care for military personnel and their families. His main task was to test and evaluate the patients on arrival, before handing over the most serious to his colleagues in the intensive care unit.
He is not the only sports figure pressed in medical services in the global fight against the virus. In Canada, for example, Hayley Wickenheiser, four-time Olympic gold medalist in hockey who became a medical student, was collection of protective equipment for workers and also helping to track the spread of the virus.
Although unexpected, Dr. Varandas found his medical service satisfactory.
"The sport had stopped in Portugal and I thought I was more important to the country as a doctor," he said.
It was not clear what authority President Trump invoked on Friday when he entered the White House briefing room and called on states "to allow our churches and places of worship to open now ". He threatened to "override" all the governors who failed to do so.
Declaring places of worship are "essential" operations, Trump said they should be allowed to organize in-person services this weekend, regardless of state quarantine orders arising from the coronavirus pandemic which has killed almost 96,000 people in the USA.
"Governors must do the right thing and allow these very important and essential places of faith to open now for this weekend," said Trump, reading prepared text before leaving. after about a minute without taking questions. "If they don't, I will prevail over 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 sue states to court on grounds of religious freedom, which could take time. Attorney General William P. Barr, a staunch defender of religious rights, has already been threatens to sue California.
In California, more than 1,200 pastors signed a statement protesting state restrictions on in-person services and pledged to reopen their churches by May 31, even if the restrictions are not not lifted. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said on Friday that the state was working with religious leaders on guidelines to reopen "in a safe and responsible manner", which he said would be released on Monday at the latest.
Elian Peltier covered the coronavirus pandemic in Spain before returning to his home country, France. We asked her to tell us about a visit to her grandparents.
When France was taken into custody 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 the 80 miles south of Paris every weekend to visit them.
At least at home, my grandparents received the care they needed.
Then the virus crept inside the retirement homes and the relief turned into an alarm. Did a decision to protect my grandparents rather condemn them?
This is how it started a long vigil of daily calls, weekly video chats and personalized postcards created online.
When I spoke to my grandfather about the whistleblowing in Spain, I omitted to mention the bodies removed from apartment buildings in Barcelona and the healthcare workers in combination with protection against hazardous materials disinfecting nursing homes in remote villages. It was better to make him aware of the uncertain fate of the European football leagues and to remember our practice of shooting on goal in his garden of Beaugency, where I spent my summers as a child.
The coronavirus has killed around 14,000 residents of retirement homes in France – half the number of deaths in the country. We are fortunate that to date none of these deaths have taken place in my grandparents' home, where caregivers were alert to social estrangement.
While France started to loosen its lock last week, we were finally able to visit, or rather sit in front of the house, while my grandparents were sitting inside, a few meters away. To allow us to hear each other, the staff opened the door, but placed a table with a Plexiglas partition in the doorway.
We could only see my grandparents one by one because they are in different parts of the house that can no longer mix socially. My grandfather, a former stone mason, misses many things that we cannot yet deliver, such as shorts, due to the strict house rules. She misses my grandmother's company the most.
My grandmother, once a wonderful cook known to her Basque chicken and cherry cakes, Alzheimer's disease. When she struggled to recognize me, I broke the rules and took off my mask for a second. A nurse gently stroked her hair while we talked. My mom and I were a little envious that the nurse could do what we couldn't.
For now, I plan to finally read my grandfather's newspapers about his military service in Chad when he was about my age. He gave them to me at Christmas; I thought I had a lot of time to read them. It was before he had a stroke and before the pandemic created a new normal.
Pandemics are often described as communication crises, when leaders have to persuade entire populations to suspend their lives due to an invisible threat. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand excels in this – by clearing up the epidemiology with empathy, and raising the legal issues with mom jokes.
It’s incredibly effective.
Ms Ardern helped convince the New Zealanders – "our team of five million," she says – to accept a lock so severe that even recovering a stray cricket ball from a neighbor's yard has been prohibited. Now the country, despite some initial difficulties with contact tracing, has almost wiped out the virus, coming out of isolation with only 21 deaths and a few dozen active cases.
Halos can make heretics legitimate critics, including epidemiologists who argue that the New Zealand lockout has gone too far, that other countries have removed the virus with less damage to small businesses.
And Ms. Ardern's canonization diminishes two powerful forces behind her success: her own hard work to connect with voters and the political culture of New Zealand, which in the 1990s reshuffled its vote, forging a system that forces political parties to work together.
"You need the whole context, the way the political system has evolved," said Helen Clark, a former prime minister who hired Ms. Ardern as an advisor more than a decade ago. "It is not easily transferable."
The coronavirus follows a "different path" in Africa compared to its trajectory in other regions, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
Mortality rates are lower in Africa than elsewhere, the W.H.O. said, theorizing that the continent's young population could explain this.
The virus has reached 55 countries on the continent, which recently confirmed its 100,000th case, with 3,100 deaths. When the number of infections in Europe has reached this point, he recorded 4,900 deaths.
"For the time being, Covid-19 has made landfall in Africa and the continent has been spared the high number of deaths that have devastated other regions of the world," said Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti of the organization for Africa.
Over 60% of Africans are under the age of 25 and Covid-19 hits older people particularly hard. In Europe, around 95% of deaths from viruses have occurred in people aged 60 and over.
Many health experts, however, have questioned the WHO figures, claiming that the screening capacity of most African countries is extremely limited – in part because they have trouble getting it. 39; diagnostic equipment they need – and that deaths from Covid-19 are under counted.
In some places, they say, the low official number of cases and deaths masks a much more serious reality.
In Kano, a busy shopping center in northern Nigeria, the official number of confirmed cases is small, as is the number of samples it can test. Gravediggers report that they bury far more bodies than usual, and doctors say deaths are almost certainly caused by Covid-19, but few of them are tested before the burial.
"Most of the people who die are in their 60s and above, and most of them have other conditions," such as hypertension or diabetes, said Professor Yusuf Adamu , medical geographer in Kano. He said that many residents appeared to have mild symptoms, but often avoided testing.
The strong man from Chechnya, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin, is hospitalized for possible symptoms of coronavirus, according to public news agencies. A spokesperson suggests that he only stays discreet because he "thinks".
The uncertainty over the health of the leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has broad implications, as the virus shakes the volatile and predominantly Muslim region of the Caucasus region of southern Russia.
Even the very status of Chechnya as a part of Russia – involved in two wars of the post-Soviet era – depends largely on the close ties between Mr. Kadyrov and Mr. Putin.
Official figures are still low – Chechnya has reported 1,046 virus cases and 11 deaths – but signs emerge daily that the toll across the Caucasus is much larger and growing.
The pandemic seems to hit the neighboring republic of Dagestan more severely. Mr. Putin held an unusual television videoconference with Dagestan leaders this week, warning that the traditional festivities marking the end of Ramadan this weekend were a threat.
A senior cleric, Mufti Akhmad Abdulayev, told Putin that more than 700 people had died there, including 50 doctors.
Thursday, Tobi Lütke, founder and CEO of Shopify in Ottawa, announced on Twitter that most of the 5,000 employees in his business had become permanent home workers.
It came the same day as a similar Facebook announcement, and it followed the telework movements of Twitter and OpenText, the backbone 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 remedy for those closed by the pandemic.
In the post-pandemic world, the company's Canadian offices will become "recruiting centers" and places where employees can meet in person if needed.
It seems beyond rude to anyone who still has a job to complain about where he performs his duties. But for many people, remote working is an undesirable novelty.
When India imposed a national lockdown on March 25, thousands and thousands of migrant workers, deprived of work, began long, perilous journeys from Indian cities, often on foot.
But Mohan Paswan, a rickshaw driver from a lower rung of the Indian 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 as they sought to return from New Delhi to their village, halfway through India.
Their saving grace was a $ 20 purple bike bought with the last of their savings. As of May 8, Jyoti cycled 700 miles with his father behind him, delivering them both safely home last weekend.
Several days, they had little food. They slept in gas stations. They lived on the generosity of strangers. The bike was not easy. His father is tall and he was carrying a bag. Sometimes people teased them, upsetting him.
The national press has taken over the story of Jyoti The heart of a lion". "
On Thursday, the Cycling Federation of India, which is looking for young talent and sends the best to international competitions, including the Olympic Games, found Jyoti through a journalist and invited him in New Delhi for a test with the national team.
Contacted by phone Friday in her village of Sirhulli, in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India, Jyoti said in a creaky and exhausted voice: "I am delighted, I really want to go. "
How to have a safer Memorial Day weekend.
It's Memorial Day weekend in the United States, when beaches and backcountry barbecues invite you. Although many places continue to reopen, you should still not be meeting as a group – but as many people will, here are some tips to reduce your risk of coronavirus.
The reports were provided 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.