ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of National Health Services on Sunday issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) for mitigation of spread of person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 to general public including the buyers and sellers of animals during Eid-ul-Azha.

According to an official of the ministry, the SOPs were related with the social distancing, preventive measures during slaughtering of animals and during Eid prayers on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha.

He said that public should only undertake minimal necessary travel during Eid holidays as it was likely to fall in the peak period of pandemic in Pakistan while social visits at Eid and general family get together should be avoided.

He said that as per SOPs Eid shopping should only be restricted to minimal essentials and crowding in markets was not advisable. The tradition of ‘Eid embracing’ is likely to increase transmission so it should be avoided for this Eid.

The local authorities should encourage the trend of online buying, e-selling and slaughter arrangements of the animals as much as possible in their respective cities and towns.

Buyer must wear surgical or medical mask as per govt orders

 The authorities should allocate large enough spaces away from general populated areas for animal markets and must get the markets set under their supervision while allocating the space to the animal vendors strictly following social distancing principles.

He added the local authority must ensure that every individual visiting the market including buyer or seller must wear face mask as per the government’s orders. Those without face masks would not be allowed within the market.

Similarly, the local authority must ensure the availability of thermal guns at entrance and allow customers only after checking temperature. He added local authority must designate an individual at the entrance and exit of the market with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 70% alcohol) to make sure each customer sanitize hand before entering and while leaving the market.

As per SOPs, do not allow the customer with cough and flu to enter the market and to ensure the space does not get crowded, allow people to enter the market only in small groups at intervals.

The sellers must keep themselves updated with the updated instructions issued by the government and show strict compliance to the buyers.

He said that the buyer must wear a surgical or medical mask as per the government orders and do not go to the market if suffering from fever, cough or flu.  He asked to make sure to sanitize hands before and after visiting the market.

He said that these guidelines have been developed to propose measures to ensure continued and uninterrupted prayers for Muslims on Eid-ul-Azha.

He said that as per SOPs, citizens had been asked to discourage the sick and elderly and children less than 15 years of age from attending prayers and discourage the socializing within the Mosques after prayers.

He added people must avoid handshake while worshipers must maintain social distancing by keeping two meters distance between each other, and every other row should be left empty. He added avoid crowding when entering or exiting the mosques.

He said that every person should wear face surgical mask and worshippers should bring their own prayer mat and not leave them behind after the prayer. Clean floors for prayers must be ensured by washing them with chlorinated water regularly.