Pakistan struggles to stop congregational prayers, cases surge past 2,400

The government had earlier issued a notification limiting the number of people between three to five who can attend Friday and congregational prayers to fight the virus outbreak.

By Author  |  Published: 3rd Apr 2020  3:19 pm
Residents wearing facemasks walk through a disinfecting tunnel at a vegetable and fruit market during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Islamabad.

Islamabad: Pakistan’s coronavirus cases crossed 2,400 on Friday as the authorities struggled to stop big congregational gatherings despite government’s notification limiting up to five the number of people attending such prayers to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

Ministry of Health Services said that Pakistan’s coronavirus cases jumped to 2,450 on Friday. Thirty five people have died due to the pandemic, while 126 have recovered so far.

It further reported that the largest province of Punjab registered 920, Sindh 783, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) 311, Balochistan 169, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) 190, Islamabad 68 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 9 cases.

The number of cases were regularly on the rise in the country despite more than one week of partial lockdown to minimise movement of people.

The government had earlier issued a notification limiting the number of people between three to five who can attend Friday and congregational prayers to fight the virus outbreak.

The provincial and federal governments were also trying to convince people to stay away from mosques but without much success.

The Sindh provincial government announced a complete lockdown from 12 noon to 3pm to stop people from attending the Friday prayers.

Sindh’s Local Government Minister Nasir Shah termed it as a “painful decision” taken with a heavy heart.

“The mosques, however, will remain open where only three to five persons can perform Juma (Friday) prayers,” he said.

Dar ul Iftah Jamia Naeemia, an Islamic university in Lahore, issued a fatwa (religious edict) saying that people who are stopped by the government from coming to mosques were not obliged to perform the prayers in congregation.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is trying to treat the COVID-19 patients through plasma of recovered patients, and the first case in Pakistan, who recovered last month, donated plasma in Karachi.

Earlier, Tahir Shamsi, a renowned hematologist of National Institute of Blood Diseases, said the technique could be used to treat patients and China also used it effectively.

Meanwhile, Radio Pakistan reported that the World Bank has approved USD 160 billion emergency aid, including USD 200 million to Pakistan, over 15 months to help countries deal with the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.