Notification directs home delivery of feed for animals, outlines safety measures for consumers
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday announced a series of exemptions for “essential outlets” that provide food for birds and animals, including pets, and issued guidelines for how best to secure the feed without risking infection by COVID-19.
In a notification, the provincial government said that it was granting regulated exemptions for outlets that provided food for birds and animals to feed mills as well as for citizens with pets. It said that regulating the exemptions would be at the discretion of district administrators but provided guidelines for how best to proceed.
Per the guidelines, the preferred dissemination of food for animals should be through delivery services to “ensure physical distancing.” It has urged citizens to thoroughly disinfect any packaged food prior to use. “Such things shall be brought to one segregated and specified point with great care in the house and afterwards that point may be sanitized properly,” it said.
According to the government notification, all vehicles transporting food and medicine for pets should be washed and disinfected daily, while individuals operating such vehicles have been ordered to wash their hands for 20 seconds every hour to ensure their customers’ and their own safety. They have also been directed to use protective gear such as masks and gloves.
“The use of polythene bags may be discouraged, and where such use is inevitable, it may be brought from outside to a specific point in such facility,” it said.
For any outlet that requires a physical storefront, says the guideline, timings should be clearly announced so people can easily obtain food while maintaining the necessary social distancing. It encourages people to store food for longer period at their homes or places of business to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is not the first government to issue guidelines for the welfare of animals during the extraordinary circumstances arising from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The Sindh government has issued special orders to allow pet shops and markets to feed and care for animals there. Animals who had been found shuttered in markets—many left to starve and die—have been shifted to shelters, while government veterinarians have also been deployed to provide medicines and treatment for ailing creatures.
In Punjab, authorities have similarly allowed for shop-owners to feed the animals in their care. The decision came after a horrifying incident in provincial capital Lahore, where a local animal market was left shuttered, leading to dozens of birds and animals perishing before rescue efforts could be initiated.
Pakistan currently has 2,039 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 28 deaths and 82 full recoveries. Most of the country is currently in the midst of partial lockdowns to encourage social distancing and curb the spread of the disease.