Ramadan prayers in Saudi to be held at home: Live Updates

Saudi Arabia has announced Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr prayers will take place at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chinese city of Wuhan has raised its number of coronavirus fatalities by 1,290 to 3,869, most of China’s total. That brings the total fatalities nationwide to at least 4,642.

US President Donald Trump has announced “a phased approach” to ease restrictions of movement on Americans.

The number of people who have caught the disease, also known as COVID-19, has now reached 2,152,000 worldwide, with nearly 145,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Friday, April 17
12:45 GMT – Qatar reports 560 coronavirus cases in past 24 hours

Qatar has reported 560 new COVID-19 cases, taking its total number to 4663, with 49 people recovering in one day.
12:30 GMT – Pakistanis gather for Friday prayers defying coronavirus advisory

A lack of consensus between religious leaders and the Pakistani government has seen Friday congregational prayers still being held at some mosques across the country, in defiance of government guidelines on social distancing amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

In the capital, Islamabad, hundreds gathered at the Red Mosque, led by hardline religious leader Abdul Aziz, to offer prayers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder and filling the mosque’s main hall to capacity.
12:12 GMT – The Scottish Muslim couple winning hearts amid coronavirus crisis

A Muslim couple, who own a grocery store in Falkirk, Scotland, has donated 3,000 masks and delivered more than 1,000 food parcels to people vulnerable to the coronavirus, winning praise from their community.

Dozens of NHS workers have died of COVID-19 and although the UK government downplays any correlation between the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the deaths, healthcare workers across the country are struggling to cope

Read more here.
12:00 GMT – Papua New Guinea premier tested for coronavirus

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister is in self-isolation and has been tested for COVID-19 after possibly coming into contact with an infected person.

The precautions were taken after a staffer at the country’s main coronavirus emergency center, which premier James Marape recently visited, tested positive for COVID-19, according to ABC News.

The report said all workers at the National Operations Center, as well as people who visited the facility over the past week, including Marape, the country’s police minister and several journalists, are being tested for COVID-19.
11:45 GMT – Saudi grand mufti: Ramadan night, Eid prayers to be done at home amid coronavirus

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in the country, said that Muslim prayers during Ramadan and for the subsequent Eid al-Fitr feast should be performed at home if the coronavirus outbreak continues, Saudi’s Okaz newspaper reported.

“Ramadan’s Taraweeh (evening) prayer can be performed at home if it cannot be performed at mosques due to the preventive measures taken to fight the spread of coronavirus,” he said in response to a question, adding that same applies for Eid prayers, according to the paper.
10:35 GMT – Spain’s daily death toll from coronavirus rises to 585 on Friday

Spain’s overnight death toll from coronavirus rose to 585, up from 551 on Thursday but still far off figures of over 900 registered during the peak of the outbreak in early April.

It was unclear why the difference in the government’s death toll from Thursday and Friday did not reflect the overnight death rate.

The number of overall coronavirus cases rose to 188,068 on Friday from 182,816 on Thursday, a 2.9 percent increase.
10:06 GMT – Virus outbreak at Philippine jail fuels calls for prisoner releases

Eighteen guards and inmates at a jam-packed Philippine prison have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Friday, heightening fears of a rapid spread of the illness inside the country’s jails.

Another 30 prisoners were showing symptoms inside the Quezon City Jail in the capital Manila – a facility so crowded that inmates take turns sleeping on staircases and in open-air basketball courts.

The outbreak has fuelled calls from rights groups for the early release of prisoners charged with non-violent offences as well as the sick and elderly in an effort to ease congestion and lower the risk of transmission.

The Philippines has a steadily rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with 5,878 infections and 387 deaths to date.
09:45 GMT – Eastern Europeans flown in for ‘vital’ jobs on UK, German farms

Seasonal workers from Romania were flown into the United Kingdom on a special charter flight on Thursday evening to help fill a shortage of workers to pick fruits and vegetables on the country’s farms.

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