KARACHI: The COVID-19 positivity rate has remained between 3% and 4% during the last three days. The positivity rate was recorded 3.60% during the last 24 hours in the country, the National Institute of Health, Islamabad’s (NIH) data showed Friday morning.
The country also reported two deaths today as compared to 4 and 9 on August 4 and 3, respectively.
As per the latest NIH statistics, as many as 750 new COVID-19 infections were detected after 20,854 tests, taking the country’s total coronavirus case count to 1,557,134.
The NIH data also showed that at least 164 COVID-19 patients are being treated in the intensive-care units of different hospitals around the country.
Pakistanis advised to mask up
With Pakistan logging hundreds of COVID-19 cases every day, the NIH has advised strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), including mask wearing and social distancing during Muharram gatherings.
Gathering and majalis to remember the Shuhada-e-Karbala (martyrs of Karbala) have started as the country observes the new Islamic year — which began on Sunday (July 31).
What are the SOPs for Muharram?
NIH has restricted the elderly and children from attending the gatherings and majalis during Ashura in a COVID-safe manner, as the risk of another outbreak looms with an uptick of the virus across Pakistan.
Following are the guidelines for holding gatherings and processions
- COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures i.e mask-wearing, social distancing and use of sanitisers/ hand washing should be adhered to
- Organising committees should make arrangements for all SOPs
- Zakirs and participants should be vaccinated against COVID-19
- Venue for conduct of Majalis should be open and spacious with proper
- ventilation arrangements
- Wearing of masks and maintenance of social distancing is mandatory during majalis and Processions. Availability of masks and sanitisers/ hand washes
- Controlled participation according to capacity of venues and avoidance of overcrowding
- Duration of majalis and processions should be curtailed
- Majalis where SOPs cannot be effectively implemented such as
- homes and private gatherings should be discouraged
- Elderly above 65 years, children and co-morbid may be sensitized to
- attend Majalis at home through live streaming
- Proper arrangements for cleaning venues with chlorine before and after the events
- Display of COVID-19 SOPs and precautions at prominent places
- SOPs compliance by employing volunteer scouts
- Arrangements for food and drinks in spacious and ventilated place.
- Emphasis on use of disposable utensils; preference on pre-packaged boxes for distribution of food.
- Avoiding overcrowding at food distribution points/locations.
- No handshake and embracing.
Areas of focus
Some of the aspects meriting necessary actions at the federal and federating units level, include following:
- Messaging by religious clerics for uniform implementation of SOPs /guidelines proposed by NCOC.
- Strict enforcement of SOPs by civil administration.