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A woman lights sparklers during Diwali in Allahabad, India. Photo: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images

Many are celebrating a relatively low-key Diwali, the festival of lights, this year as coronavirus cases surge in many parts of the world.

Driving the news: Coronavirus restrictions and social distancing efforts have derailed the plans of many Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists who usually celebrate the festival by attending large gatherings.

The big picture: Many in India held small celebrations in their homes and communities while several temples across the country streamed prayer sessions online, per AP.

  • The Empire State Building in New York City was illuminated with an orange light to celebrate. President Trump extended his "warmest wishes to all those celebrating Diwali" in a statement Saturday. President-elect Joe Biden also sent his best wishes in a tweet.
  • Celebrations were being held in Pakistan, Nepal and several other cities around the world.
A man wearing a mask is seen in front of his marigold flower garlands display during Diwali in New Delhi, India. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
A girl lights lamps for Diwali in Assam, India. Photo: Anuwar Hazarika/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Revelers release a handmade sky-lantern from the terrace of a building to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Kolkata. Photo: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP via Getty Images
Pakistani Hindu women celebrate Diwali at Krishna Mandir in Lahore, Pakistan. Photo: Arif Ali/AFP via Getty Images
A lady decorates her doorstep during Diwali celebrations in Leicester, England. Photo: Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images
Hindu devotees take part in Diwali rituals in Vejalpur village in India. Photo: Sam Panthaky/AFP via Getty Images
Girls hold sparklers during Diwali in Assam, India. Photo: Anuwar Hazarika/NurPhoto via Getty Images
A family lights sparklers during Diwali in Faridabad, India. Photo: Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images
A man is seen carrying marigold flower garlands for sale for Diwali in the flower market in New Delhi, India. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Updated Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: 1 in 3 Americans know someone who died from COVID-19 — Axios-Ipsos poll: Biden's window of opportunity on COVID — Nursing home COVID cases have drastically declinedU.S. death toll tops 500,000.
  2. Vaccine: Pfizer and Moderna expect to double vaccine shipments by spring — Fast-spreading misinformation on COVID vaccine and infertility worries health experts — Modified vaccines for variants would not require large clinical trials, FDA says.
  3. Economics: Small businesses say even second round of PPP loans not enoughU.S. growth expectations are going through the roof.
  4. Local: Denver breaks from Colorado's vaccine plan Twin Cities and some Midwest metros fare better economically than rest of U.S. — Federal vaccine distribution arriving in Tampa.
  5. World: Boris Johnson unveils roadmap to fully reopen England's economy by June.
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.