Muslim devotees offer prayers marking the start of Islam's holy month of Ramadan at Al Akbar Mosque in Surabaya on April 2, 2022. (JUNI KRISWANTO / AFP)
JAKARTA / YANGON / NEW DELHI - The world's largest Muslim-majority nation of Indonesia welcomed the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan with a mass prayer at Jakarta's grand mosque on Saturday, with plateauing coronavirus cases allowing for eased restrictions this year.
Thousands gathered after dusk at Istiqlal mosque in the Indonesian capital to join the Tarawih prayer, special prayers performed only during the month of Ramadan, donning masks and using check-in apps to take part in the event.
For the past two years Indonesia has grappled with one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Asia, but this Ramadan, traditionally a time of community, reflection and prayer, cases have eased enough to allow for mass gatherings
For the past two years Indonesia has grappled with one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Asia, but this Ramadan, traditionally a time of community, reflection and prayer, cases have eased enough to allow for mass gatherings.
"I feel grateful that we are finally able to gather for the Tarawih prayer, and there are no strict restrictions this time like before," said Tri Haryono, 28.
"I'm very grateful that we can finally pray here together."
Amid the worst spikes in the coronavirus pandemic, Indonesian Muslims have been prohibited from praying at the mosque, and joining the annual mudik or exodus tradition, when millions travel to visit their families across the sprawling archipelago.
President Joko Widodo announced last week that mudik would be permitted this year after pandemic-related travel bans have prevented the practise for the past two years.
"The improving COVID situation has brought optimism as the Ramadan holy month is upon us," he told a news conference.
The start of Ramadan, during which observers abstain from food and drink from dawn until sunset, can fall on different dates due to differences in sightings of the new moon.
This year fasting month began earlier in much of the Middle East and South Asia than in Southeast Asia, which started fasting on Sunday.
A health worker inoculates a school student with a dose of ‘Corbevax’ vaccine during a vaccination drive held for children in the age group of 12-14, as a preventive measure against COVID-19 coronavirus at a school in Bangalore on March 30, 2022. (MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP)
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 43,028,131 on Sunday, as 1,096 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, showed the federal health ministry's latest data.
Besides, as many as 81 deaths due to the pandemic were reported since Saturday morning, taking the total death toll to 521,345.
There are still 13,013 active COVID-19 cases in the country as there was a fall of 432 active cases during the past 24 hours. This was the 68th consecutive day when the number of active cases declined in the country.
So far 42,493,773 people have been successfully cured and discharged from hospitals, out of which 1,447 were discharged during the past 24 hours.
Myanmar received a batch of 3 million COVID-19 vaccine syringes donated by China on Saturday, according to a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Myanmar has received China's support including COVID-19 vaccines, oxygen concentrators and face masks, the statement said.
According to the Health Ministry, Myanmar reported 135 new COVID-19 cases with a daily positivity rate of 1.04 percent on Saturday.
The number of infections in the country has increased to 611,809, while death toll stood at 19,432.
With 210 new recoveries, a total of 589,842 patients have been discharged from hospitals and over 7.6 million samples have been tested for COVID-19 so far.