‘Pakistan’s virus battle about to enter critical stage’

DM Monitoring

BEIJING: Pakistan battle against the new coronavirus pandemic will enter the most critical moment during the upcoming holy month of Ramazan, Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at Chongyang Institute of Finance at Renmin University of China said on Thursday.
A few days ago, at the request of the religious figures, the Pakistani government decided to allow prayers in mosques during Ramazan, which will last for a month. Some people in Pakistan’s epidemic prevention and public health community are very worried about this.
First, if everyone is allowed to worship in the mosque especially the Grand Mosque, it may make people less vigilant about the new pneumonia epidemic; second, the prayer time may be difficult to control, especially continuous prayers from afternoon to night; third long-term close-range (possibly less than one meter safe distance) human-to-human contact can cause the virus to spread quickly, Zhou Rong, also a senior consultant at Beijing Zhongan Huadun Consulting Service said in his article.
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary-General Dr. Kasir Sajad said, “The association is worried about the situation. We are worried that the number of cases will rise because of large-scale collective prayers. We can only hope that the people abide by preventive measures.” Prime Minister of Imran Khan warned that the number of cases may rise by mid-May.
Dr. Sajad replied, “If the two holy mosques in Makkah and Medina can extend the time for prayer suspension during Ramazan, why can’t Pakistan do it?” Sajad emphasized that it turns out that maintaining social distances can slow the spread of the epidemic.
Fortunately, after meeting with President Arif Alvi and religious leaders, the government announced the implementation of the Twenty-Point Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to prevent the spread of infections while deciding to remove restrictions on the size of prayers during Ramazan. The President stated that violating this rule is like a crime, because all Ulema and Mashaikh or religious leaders agree to do so.
According to relevant regulations, Pakistani mosques will have to remove carpets and clean floors. Persons over 50 years old and children attending school particularly under 12 years of age are not allowed to enter. At the same time, the Pakistani government will follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization, and religious prayers will keep people at a distance of 1.82 meters from each other.
President of the Pakistan Council of Religious Priest (PUC) Hafiz Tahir Mehmud Ashrafi stressed that the government and religious leaders have a responsibility to ensure that security measures are observed. “If the cleric discovers any violation of the SOP, he should immediately report it to the government.” He also said that many religious leaders will pray at home in Taraweeh to set an example for believers.
Thankfully, Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasized that if the precautions of the mosque are not followed during Ramazan, the government may reconsider allowing the congregation to pray.