ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Covid-19 response body issued new guidelines on Tuesday with face coverings and social distancing among measures for Eid ul Azha as the number of coronavirus cases surged across the country.
Covid cases spiked in Pakistan from mid-June, with officials fearing infections could spread further due to shopping and celebrations leading up to 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 coronavirus cases 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%. No new deaths were reported during this period.
In a notification, the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) noted that “being an important religious event/congregation; Eid al-Azha prayer and qurbani take on greater importance in the current Covid situation in the country”.
In accordance with the guidelines, Eid prayers will be held in open spaces “under strict Covid protocols”.
If there is an obligation to offer prayers inside mosques, all doors and windows should be kept open for ventilation, Dawn reports the newspaper.
The NCOC also recommended that two to three prayers be held in one place with staggered times so that as many people as possible can attend with Covid precautions.
The elderly, the sick, and young children were discouraged from attending the congregation because they were more vulnerable to infection.
No one will be allowed to enter mosques without a mask. There will be separate entry and exit points on the site to avoid “amalgamation of individuals” and hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed.
The NCOC has also asked mosques to ensure social distancing of at least six feet between worshipers to avoid physical contact. People should also refrain from shaking hands or hugging to avoid the risk of disease transmission.
In addition, people have been encouraged to perform ablution at home and bring their own prayer mats to mosques.
Additionally, gatherings after prayers were discouraged and people were told to disperse immediately after the congregation.
The government has encouraged people to opt for mass “qurbani” (slaughter) this year through public, private and community organizations and to ensure the implementation of precautionary measures, according to the Dawn report.

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