A religious statue sits beyond yellow tape during the coronavirus pandemic in Miami on Thursday. AP
Church doors will be shut and the Vatican sealed off when Pope Francis leads 1.3 billion Catholics in Easter Sunday celebrations held under a worldwide coronavirus lockdown.
Fear and confusion in the face of a disease whose toll has unrelentingly climbed towards 100,000 are reshaping society and transforming the way religion is observed.
Even such hallowed traditions as the pope's messages to the faithful on Saint Peter's Square are being replaced by live streamed prayers that Francis reluctantly records from the seclusion of his private library.
The Vatican has been closed to visitors for a month and the 83-year-old pontiff -- beloved for breaking stuffy customs and mingling with the people -- has complained of feeling "caged".
"We have to respond to our confinement with all our creativity," Francis said in an interview published by several Catholic newspapers this week.
"We can either get depressed and alienated... or we can get creative."
The pope's virtual prayers are just the starkest example of religious improvisation in the age of social distancing and confinement.
Others abound worldwide -- from the Archbishop of Panama blessing his tiny Central American nation from the air in a helicopter to the faithful in Spain blasting religious music from their balconies during Holy Week.
The scale of the unfolding tragedy has seen a New York City cathedral replace rows of wooden seats with hospital beds in case of overcrowding in surrounding emergency wards.Agence France-Presse
World Health Organisation Director Dr Tedros Adhanom is the focus of attention as the 2019 novel coronavirus advances across the globe. He has been criticised by some health professionals
There are now more than 600,000 coronavirus cases across 202 countries and territories globally, with the United States overtaking China as the country with the most infections. Europe continues to report the most deaths.
The last council meeting in the headquarters complex was on March 12, when a resolution was adopted extending the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and welcoming "encouraging developments” toward peace.
The announcement brings the country's tally of confirmed virus cases up to 289, according to ministry's spokesman Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanad. In addition, 216 virus patients are still receiving necessary treatment, while 13 others are in intensive care units.
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
The Committee explained that the new guidelines take into account the exceptional situations of some categories of people including people of determination, children, and those with chronic respiratory conditions.
The UAE will today (Monday) start receiving residents with valid residence visas, who were stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic from various countries.