Pakistanis should celebrate the upcoming Eid festival with “simplicity” to prevent a spike in new coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Friday.
Many people ignored social distancing guidelines and flocked to mosques and markets during the last religious holiday marking the end of Ramadan in May — helping fuel a subsequent surge in COVID-19 cases across Pakistan.
Imran Khan calls for simplicity during Eid
The increase prompted the World Health Organization to call for new lockdowns across Pakistan.
“Eid ul Azha must be celebrated with simplicity so as not to repeat what happened last Eid when SOPs (standard operating procedures) were ignored & our hospitals were choked”, Khan tweeted, adding that he was ordering the “strict implementation” of government guidelines.
The Eid festival of animal sacrifice will begin at the end of the month and lasts for several days. Authorities expect a rush of people going to markets to look for sheep, goats and other animals to slaughter.
I urge the nation to continue observing SOPs essential to sustain our positive trend. Eid ul Azha must be celebrated with simplicity so as not to repeat what happened last Eid when SOPs were ignored & our hospitals were choked. I am ordering strict implementation of govt SOPs.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 17, 2020
Many in Pakistan return to their family homes from cities to observe the festival.
According to official tallies, around 260,000 people in Pakistan have tested positive for coronavirus, including more than 5,470 deaths.
Foreign Minister Qureshi recovers as Imran Khan wants ‘simple’ Eid
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has recovered from the novel coronavirus after remaining in self-isolation in his hometown, Multan for over two weeks.
He tested positive on July 3 and immediately quarantined himself after his test report came. However, on Friday, he announced on twitter about his recovery adding he has now resumed work.
“Thank you all for your good wishes and support. I am fortunate to be back in office today post #COVID. I pay tribute to Pakistan’s healthcare and frontline workers for being our backbone in the fight against this pandemic with unyielding commitment and dedication. I salute you,” said Qureshi in his tweet.
Hospital in Islamabad on high alert for Eid
The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has been placed on high alert for two months after concerns were expressed regarding a possible resurgence of coronavirus during the upcoming Eid al Adha and later the Islamic month of Muharram al Haram.
The hospital will remain on high alert from July 20 to Sept 20, during which time staff leave will be cancelled and even protests have been banned, said a senior doctor of the hospital.
This is being done to combat the feared second wave of coronavirus infections during Eid Ul Azha in Pakistan.
The country has more than 200,000 cases of coronavirus since its first case.
Pakistan: on a downward trend in infections
In recent days, Pakistan has seen the rate of new infections slow considerably.
While some medical experts have said this is because of a decrease in testing, Khan said the “positive trend” was primarily the result of “smart” lockdowns in which hotspots are sealed off.
Cricketer-turned-politician Khan drew criticism early in the virus crisis for resisting a comprehensive, nationwide lockdown and instead leaving provincial governments to enact most of the restrictions.
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) July 16, 2020
He argued that impoverished Pakistan could not afford the type of sweeping shutdowns seen in other countries.
Coronavirus in Pakistan: The situation thus far
As of today, the total number of people infected by the Novel Coronavirus and suffering from the associated disease COVID-19 in Pakistan has crossed 265,000. There have been more than 5,000 deaths associated with the disease. A statistic to take heart from is the fact that 206,000 people suffering from COVID-19 have recovered.
Pakistan has been using a policy of “smart lockdowns” to contain the pandemic. Going against the grain, the country has eased total lockdown and reopened the economy, but is continuously monitoring virus clusters in order to determine hotspots.
Any area deemed to show abnormal virus activity is locked down promptly for a period.
COVID-19 associated lockdowns have caused a slowdown in the international economy, with experts saying that it will shrink by as much as 6% this year. Estimates do not show it recovering before 2022. The World Bank has also sounded the alarm over the dismal economic situation that the world finds itself in, and has asked fiscal policy makers the world over to pay special attention to the economic fallout forecasted amid the pandemic.
GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources