Pakistan’s coronavirus cases quadruple during holy month of Ramadan

Pakistan’s coronavirus cases quadruple during holy month of Ramadan
Coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate in Pakistan as Ramadan and Eid bring people out of their homes despite the risk.
2 min read
The coronavirus spread across Pakistan [Getty]

The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan has quadrupled in the last month, as mosques across the country are open and filled with worshippers during the holy month of Ramadan.

Cases of Covid-19 jumped from 12,000 to over 48,000 in the past month, demonstrating that laxity in enforcing social distancing has had a dangerous impact.

The rate of new infections is steadily rising, The Washington Post reports. The number of cases has increased by 30 per cent in the past week, and more than 1,000 people have died.

This comes as the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the coronavirus “apparently is not a pandemic in Pakistan,” and Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with government officials have suggested that the economic costs of restrictions outweigh the cost of increased infection.

Religious leaders who called for easing quarantine restrictions to allow for prayer in mosques have called for doing away with restrictions completely for Eid.

Mufti Muhammad Hanif Qureshi, a religious scholar in Karachi, said he expects people to participate in Eid prayers at his mosque “in huge numbers.”

“We demand the government to avoid any confrontation,” he said.

“Otherwise, it will be held responsible for any law-and-order situation.”

Across the country, mosques have remained open during Ramadan despite the dangers of the spread of Covid-19.

The Abdullah bin Masood Mosque in the Pakistani capital Islamabad hosted at times more than 200 worshippers, and though reports suggest people keep a few feet of distance between each other to observe social distancing, “there is not a face mask or bottle of hand sanitiser to be seen,” Al Jazeera reported earlier this month.

At the Jamia Mosque in Rawalpindi, though worshipper numbers have recently decreased, none of the government guidelines of social distancing, mandatory use of face masks and the banning of prayer mats were strictly enforced.

“This is a punishment from God, and we must ask his forgiveness,” Raja Nasib Ali, a 46-year-old businessman told the Post. He was wearing a surgical facemask.

Naveed Paracha, a 35-year-old employee of a garment shop, said: “Diseases come and go, but for Muslims, you always have to stand in front of God.”

The Pakistani central government has never imposed a countrywide lockdown, but in March it banned international flights, and most Pakistani provinces did announce some form of lockdown – with mixed results in terms of enforcing restrictions.

Schools and restaurants in the country are closed but markets, factories, and most public transit across the country have reopened in time for Eid.

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