ISLAMABAD: As the country reported over 600 cases of Covid-19 on a daily basis for nearly a week, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday released guidelines for the Eidul Azha, urging people to refrain from hugging and shaking hands and perform prayers in open areas.

According to the NCOC, 18,950 tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, out of which 653 returned positive, taking the national positivity rate to 3.45pc.

The number of patients in critical care has also increased to 162.

The Eid, which will be celebrated on July 10, is a significant religious event, therefore, precautionary measures are needed to control the spread of the virus, the guidelines read.

Eid prayers to be held in open spaces; people encouraged to opt for ‘collective’ qurbani

“Eidul Azha prayers should be organised in open spaces under stringent Covid-19 protocols. In case of any compulsion to offer the prayers inside mosques, then all windows and doors should be kept open for ventilation and minimize the chances of disease spread,” it stated.

Preferably two to three prayers should be organised at one single venue with staggered timings to provide opportunity for maximum people to offer prayers with Covid-19 protocols, it stated.

The guidelines urged the ulema to keep the sermons short so that people should not stay inside mosques for long. “Efforts should be made to discourage sick, elderly and young children [from] attending Eid prayers. Under no circumstances people should be allowed to enter the prayer venue without proper face mask.”

“Efforts should be made to sensitise people to refrain from embracing and hand shaking after the prayer to avoid 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,” it stated.

According to the guidelines, people should be encouraged to perform the ablution at homes and bring own prayer mats at the venue which should have multiple entry and exit points with the availability of hand sanitisers.

“To ensure social distancing protocols, venue organisers should ensure prominent marking (six feet apart) to allow sufficient space/distance between individuals.”

Management of qurbani

The guidelines recommended people to opt for “central and collective qurbani”, while adhering to Covid-19 SOPs, including mask wearing and social distancing.

The provinces have been asked to engage the ulema to encourage collective and online qurbani and also conduct awareness campaign “to educate the masses on the possible spread of Covid-19 during meat distribution”.

The provincial administrations have been asked to designate slaughtering sites in open spaces and away from residential areas.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2022

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