Indonesia restricts Eid al-Adha celebrations amid devastating Covid-19 wave

(Update: adds info on Bali, Java)

Jakarta, Jul 20 (EFE).- Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, celebrates Eid al-Adha or ‘festival of sacrifice’ from Tuesday, with restrictions to mitigate the country’s current devastating wave of Covid-19.

The authorities have only authorized prayers in mosques in low-risk areas, while the rest will remain closed, including Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, given the situation on the island of Java where 147 of the 270 million inhabitants of the country live.

Other religious acts linked to this celebration have also been prohibited, such as the mass congregations for the traditional sacrifice of an animal, which marks the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

President Joko Widodo also extended restrictions for the islands of Java and Bali until at least July 26.

He said the measures allow traditional markets to sell basic commodities until 8 p.m. at 50 percent capacity, while other shops will be allowed to open until 3 p.m., among other restrictions.

He also announced a new aid package worth more than 3.7 billion dollars in compensation for those affected by the pandemic.

Indonesia has become the epicenter of the pandemic in Asia by number of daily infections, and is only surpassed globally by the United Kingdom, amid a wave of Covid-19 that is devastating almost all of Southeast Asia.

The health system of the Indonesian archipelago, which this Monday registered 34,257 new infections and 1,338 deaths, is on the brink of collapse due to the number of patients and also suffers from a severe shortage of oxygen.

In addition, some experts fear that the real number of infections is higher in Indonesia due to the low number of Covid-19 tests carried out – 55.89 per 1,000 people, compared to 318 in India and 3,311 in the United Kingdom.

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