Durrani, 52, is among thousands of devout Muslims flouting Pakistan government orders issued late last month banning religious congregations of five or more people to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The disease has so far infected more than 5,300 people and killed 93 in the world’s second-most populous Muslim country.

“Our prayer leader told us that the virus can’t infect us the way it does Western people,” Durrani told Reuters. “He said we wash our hands and we wash our face five times a day before we say our prayers, and the infidels don’t, so we need not worry. God is with us.”…

More than 60% of the coronavirus cases in Pakistan have so far been linked to Muslims returning from pilgrimages in the Middle East and followers of the Tablighi Jamaat, an orthodox proselytizing group.

But the worry is of a big spike coming from the congregational prayers held in mosques, especially on Fridays, the Islamic sabbath. The numbers in attendance at prayers are likely to increase with the onset of the holy month of Ramadan within two weeks, and authorities are struggling to cope.