Muslims in South Asia are preparing to observe Ramadan as lockdown measures continue in many of the countries in the region due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The holy fasting month of Ramadan will begin in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Kashmir on Saturday, while Muslims in Afghanistan and the Maldives began observing the month on Friday.

All South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries, which have reported a total of over 41,000 confirmed cases and 1,100 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak, still remain under the lockdown.

Pakistan is the only country in the region to have eased restrictions, allowing congregational prayers of Tarawih -- special nightly prayers performed during Ramadan.

However, children, those over 50 years old, and people suffering flu-like symptoms were barred from taking part in the Tarawih prayers at mosques.

In March, Pakistan banned congregational prayers and other religious gatherings at mosques for an indefinite period in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus.

So far, Islamabad has reported 11,155 cases and 237 deaths while 2,527 patients have recovered and were discharged from medical care.

Bangladesh on Friday also announced it would allow a maximum of 12 people, including an imam to lead the prayer and muezzin to make the call to prayer, to attend Tarawih.

On April 4, the Muslim-majority country suspended all religious events, gatherings and joint prayers due to the virus outbreak. However the imam, muezzin and three other mosque officials were allowed to offer daily prayers at mosques.

Meanwhile, authorities in Afghanistan, the Maldives and Muslim organizations in India have advised Muslims to perform Terawih at home and avoid gatherings during Ramadan.

On Thursday, the Maldives reported a record number of daily cases with 22, with the total exceeding 100.

Muslim organizations in India have also asked the country's more than 200 million Muslims to pray at home and avoid gatherings in Ramadan.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 185 countries and regions across the world.

The pandemic has killed more than 194,600 people, with total infections nearing 2.78 million, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University. Over 765,000 people have recovered worldwide.