Pakistan issues fresh guidelines for Eid ul Azha as COVID-19 cases spike

With social gatherings and tourism expected to peak during the Eid ul Azha holidays, Pakistani health officials have issued fresh guidelines, urging people to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) as coronavirus cases rise across the country.

The government has announced a five-day holiday from July 8 to 12 this Eid.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has advised people to wear masks, use hand sanitizers and avoid going to crowded places and maintain social distancing as the COVID-19 cases have spiked after a continuous decline since April.

Pakistan reported nine coronavirus-related deaths and 872 confirmed cases over the past 24 hours (throughout July 6), the highest single-day tally since early March 2022.

The fresh guidelines for the public to follow include these instructions:

Eid ul Azha prayers

  • No one should be allowed to enter the prayer venue without a proper face mask.
  • Eid ul Azha prayers should be organized in open spaces under stringent COVID protocols. In case of any compulsion to offer prayers inside mosques, then all windows and doors should be kept open for ventilation to minimize the chances of disease spread.
  • Preferably 2-3 Eid prayers should be organized at one single venue with staggered timings to allow maximum people to offer prayers with COVID-19 protocols.
  • All ulemas leading Eid prayers should be sensitized to keep sermons and khutbahs short so that people remain present in the prayer venues for a brief duration.
  • Sick, elderly and young children should be discouraged from attending Eid prayers.
  • Multiple entry and exit points at the prayer venue.
  • Availability of a sufficient quantity of hand sanitizers at the entry points. It should be mandatory for all coming for prayers to use sanitizers before entering the venue.
  • To ensure social distancing protocols, venue organizers must ensure prominent marking (6 feet apart) to allow sufficient space/distance between individuals.
  • People should be encouraged to perform ablution at home before coming for the prayers and also bring their own prayer mats to the venue.
  • Efforts should be made to sensitize people to refrain from embracing and handshaking after the prayer to avoid the chances of disease transmission.
  • There should not be any gathering at the prayer venue before the prayer and people should be asked to disperse immediately after the prayer.

Management of Qurbani (sacrifice)

  • Efforts will be made to promote and encourage central/collective Qurbani through various public, private and community organizations, while ensuring adherence to COVID-19 protocols of mask-wearing, social distancing and avoidance of crowd, etc.
  • Continuous engagements will be ensured by provinces with ulemas for encouraging people for central/collective and online Qurbani.
  • Individual Qurbani may be allowed, however collective Qurbani will be preferred.
  • Provinces to initiate awareness campaigns to educate the masses on the possible spread of COVID during meat distribution, therefore, care must be exercised in meat handling/distribution.
  • The site of slaughtering should be away from residential areas and preferably in open/vast spaces.
  • Crowding at slaughtering should be avoided and a minimum number of persons should be allowed to be present at the site.

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