The high spike in new coronavirus cases during the fifth wave due to the emergence of a new variant of COVID 19 Omicron prompted the National Operations Command Center of Pakistan to take anticipatory steps by issuing new standard operating procedures for mosques and places of worship across the country.
The SOP issued Friday states that only individuals who have been vaccinated will be allowed to pray in mosques or places of worship with masks as mandatory.
In addition, worshipers will also be required to maintain a social distance of at least six feet and there will also be an appeal for mosques to be asked to remove their mats and carpets from their premises.
The NCOC strongly recommends that elderly people and people with comorbid to offer prayer at home while maintaining a minimum of prayer attendance.
The SOP also emphasizes the use of hand sanitisers frequently and arranging prayers in open spaces or ensuring good ventilation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The agency also encourages worshipers to prefer to perform ablution at home and recommends sermons in Friday prayers to be shortened.
In the past 24 hours, Pakistan recorded 7,678 new COVID-19 cases, up from 6,808, the second-highest daily toll, since the pandemic began in 2020.
With the rise in new cases, the country’s overall cases have surpassed 1.35 million. Meanwhile, 59,343 tests have been carried out in the last 24 hours, increasing the positive ratio by 12.93%.
Official figures show deaths from the coronavirus rose to 23 people in the last 24 hours bringing the overall death toll to 29,065.
Despite a significant increase in cases, high-ranking officials still refuse to impose a lockdown saying that the country’s economy is unable to bear the burdens of another.
According to data compiled from the National Operations and Command Center, there are currently more than 57,000 active cases with 961 patients in critical care.
The data reveal that Karachi has the highest positivity rate in the country with 45.43%, followed by Muzaffarabad in second place with 23.94%, and Islamabad with 18.91%.