Officials issue SOPs for Muharram
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) district administration, has issued finalized SOPs for Muharram processions and congregations.
The guidelines mandate wearing masks and using sanitizers – entry without masks will be barred, however, the management should supply masks at entry points. Only licensed and traditional majalis will be allowed – they should be kept brief, and have minimal attendance. The elderly or those with underlying health conditions should not attend any gatherings.
Using carpets will be prohibited, as well as taking away leftovers, hugging, shaking hands, touching the alam, taazia and shabih, and using a single glass for drinking. Volunteers will be assigned to ensure SOPs are implemented, and that seating is marked to ensure social distancing.
Zakareen must be tested for the virus, and only those who test negative will be allowed to conduct majalis. Processions should not end in narrow and cramped places, and air conditioning should not be used for enclosed spaces.
Lockdowns imposed in parts of Mansehra
District administration imposed a series of micro-lockdowns in five areas in Mansehra in response to an increase in cases on Tuesday, August 18. Habib Street Dub No. 1, Jalalabad Chowk, Major Ayub Street No. 15, Mohallah High School near Datta exchange, and Mohallah Rait Basiti in Chitta Batta have been identified as cluster zones and immediately sealed. Entry and exit of people in these localities have been barred, and only essential services have been allowed to resume. Violating lockdown restrictions will be penalized under Sections 17 and 18 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Epidemic Control and Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020, and Section 33 of the National Disaster Management Authority Act 2010.
Lockdown mulled over as cases spike in Balochistan
Balochistan government mulls reinstating lockdowns over a notable spike in COVID-19 cases in the past week. 88 fresh infections were detected from 1,238 samples taken on August 14. In the meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan issued a notice on Tuesday, August 18 to administrative bodies to ensure implementation of SOPs.
In the past 24 hours, 11 new cases and two deaths were reported in Islamabad, while only three infections emerged in Rawalpindi with no recoveries or deaths. Sindh on the other hand reported 318 fresh COVID-19 cases and five virus-related deaths in the same timeframe. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suffered the loss of three due to the novel coronavirus.