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The streets of Cairo are brimming with shoppers, stocking up for the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on Monday evening.

For the second year, Ramadan celebrations have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic but with no curfew this time the atmosphere is a little more relaxed. At the time, many countries had closed mosques and banned Taraweeh (evening prayers) to prevent crowds.

“The Ramadan atmosphere this year is much better than last year’s. Back then, the pandemic started and there was a curfew,” Cairo resident Qamar Rustom said.

“To be honest, the atmosphere was not good. This year, people are more aware, there is a vaccine and people are taking precautionary measures, thank God.”

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with over 100 million people, has reported more than 209,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 12,000 deaths.

But like elsewhere in the world, the number is thought to be far higher, in part due to limited testing.

However, the pandemic isn’t stopping the tradition and governments across the region are trying to balance restrictions with traditions.

Many shoppers stock up on dates.

Muslims traditionally break their fast as the Prophet Muhammad did some 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and some dates at sunset.

Many parents also purchased lanterns for their children to enhance the festivities.

“We came here to look at the lanterns and buy some like we are used to doing every year,” said Cairo resident Rehab Sherif.

“Last year, we were a little scared but this year, we decided to enjoy and celebrate. Hopefully, things will be fine and nothing bad will happen and the third wave (of the coronavirus pandemic) will pass as the previous waves did.”

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