ISLAMABAD: The capital administration and departments concerned are working on a number of proposals to avoid the increase of Covid-19 cases during Eidul Azha preparations and celebration.

Officials of the capital administration said since the outbreak of the disease till Eidul Fitr on May 24, as many as 1,529 cases with 16 deaths had been reported in the capital. The count of per day cases remained under 140 before Eid.

But a few days before Eid, all marakiz, shopping centres and commercial areas were opened and people swarmed the markets for Eid shopping.

Officials said a large number of people who visited the markets without even following precautions contracted the virus. Most of the people who had gone to their hometowns to celebrate the religious festival came back as carriers of the virus.

Because of these factors, the positive cases sharply increased in the capital. The officials said from Eidul Fitr to June 28 the number of confirmed cases increased from 1,529 to 12,643 and the death toll from 16 to 128.

The district administration and the health department feared that a similar situation may occur during the upcoming Eid.

On the advice of the health department, hotspots are being locked down and Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) implemented all round the city.

“Our aim is to reduce the spread of the virus as much as possible and we have succeeded in reducing the per day count of the virus affected people from 700 to 200,” said one official, adding: “We are expecting large crowds in commercial areas again and rush of buyers at cattle markets as well. If we succeed to contain the spread, it will greatly reduce the burden on healthcare staff and hospitals by the end of July and in August.”

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat told Dawn that there were proposals under discussion to prevent the spread of the virus during Eidul Azha. A final decision will be taken by the government, he added.

One proposed is to lock down/seal the capital before, during and after

Eid to avoid the movement of people, especially those who are willing to go to their hometowns, the DC said.

Approximately, 80,000 to 100,000 animals are brought to the main cattle market of the capital, he said. A large number of people visit the market to buy animals but during the pandemic this will be a dangerous situation.

The risk of the virus spreading is higher at places where there is rush of people, said the DC.

Another proposal is to 10 to 12 cattle markets in the capital to avoid rush of buyers and sellers.

Besides, regulating the entry of people at the cattle markets and other commercial areas is also under consideration, he added.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2020