Pakistan issues new Covid guidelines for Eid ul Azha as cases mount

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Covid-19 response body issued new guidelines on Tuesday with masking and social distancing measures in place for Eid ul Azha as the number of coronavirus cases surged across the country.
Covid cases witnessed a spike in Pakistan from mid-June, with officials fearing the infections would spread further as a result of the shopping and celebrations ahead of Eid ul Azha to be observed on Sunday, the Geo-news reported.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Pakistan has so far reported 1,539,275 cases of coronavirus and 30,403 deaths.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), Pakistan reported 653 new infections in the past 24 hours, while the positivity rate reached 3.45 percent. No new deaths were reported during this period.
In a report, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) commented that “being an important religious event / congregation; Eid ul Azha prayer and qurbani are becoming more important under the current Covid situation in the country”.
According to the guidelines, Eid prayers will be organized in open spaces “under strict Covid protocols”.
In the event of a compulsion to pray in mosques, all doors and windows should be left open for ventilation, the dawn newspaper reported.
The NCOC has also recommended hosting two to three prayers in one location at staggered times so that as many people as possible can attend with Covid precautions.
Older, sick and young children are discouraged from going to church because they are more vulnerable to getting infected.
No one is allowed to enter mosques without masks. There will be separate entrances and exits at the site to prevent people from being jumbled and hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed.
The NCOC also instructed mosques to maintain social distancing of at least two meters between worshipers to avoid physical contact. People should also not shake hands or hug each other to avoid the risk of disease transmission.
Separately, people have been encouraged to perform ablution at home and bring their own prayer mats to the mosques.
In addition, gathering after the prayers has been discouraged and people have been advised to disperse immediately after the gathering.
The government has encouraged people this year to opt for collective ‘qurbani’ (slaughter) through public, private and civil society organizations and ensure the implementation of precautionary measures, the Dawn report said.

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