German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized some German states for moving too briskly in trying to reopen their economies.
Germany has been praised for its approach to the pandemic and has a much lower reported death toll than other large European countries.
“We’re not living in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning,” Merkel warned. “Let us not squander what we have achieved and risk a setback. It would be a shame if premature hope ultimately punishes us all.”
Governments are bearing that risk in mind with the onset of Ramadan, the holy month of daytime fasting, overnight festivities and communal prayer that begins for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims with the new moon this week. Many Muslim leaders have closed mosques or banned collective evening prayer to ward off new infections.
The virus has already disrupted Christianity’s Holy Week, Passover, the Muslim hajj pilgrimage and other major religious events. Authorities in the capital of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, extended its disease-fighting restrictions to cover all of Ramadan, Turkey banned communal eating during the holiday.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan bowed to the country’s religious clerics, refusing to close the mosques despite a warning from the nation’s doctors that such gatherings are like a petri dish for spreading the virus in a country with a fragile health care system.