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NCOC Reviews SOPs for Muharram Processions, Gatherings

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of an earlier NCOC meeting. Courtesy PID

Government stresses compliance with preventative guidelines to prevent resurgence of COVID-19

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Monday reviewed the government’s plans for the upcoming month of Muharram, including ensuring compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of COVID-19 during processions and religious gatherings.

Chaired by Planning Minister Asad Umar, the meeting was briefed on the daily situation with respect to the novel coronavirus, as well as the establishment of sentinel sites to monitor compliance with preventative measures.

Earlier, a meeting chaired by Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri brought together religious scholars of various schools of thought to evolve a consensus on the SOPs for Muharram processions and gatherings. According to the SOPs determined by the government, only licensed processions would be allowed and face masks and use of hand sanitizers would be mandatory for all participants.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, Qadri told the gathered ulema that “enemies” were stoking sectarian bigotry to cause unrest and urged them to frustrate the designs of such elements.

During the NCOC meeting, the forum reviewed the measures to ensure they would not harm public health or safety during Muharram. It was also informed that the SOPs were determined after lengthy consultations with all stakeholders.

Umar instructed all stakeholders to ensure that all SOPs were enforced, warning that the disease could resurge if the public did not cooperate. He especially emphasized the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Mobile testing camps should be established in the northern areas to monitor incoming tourists, he added.

According to the NCOC, there are currently 27 targeted lockdowns in place across Pakistan as part of the country’s test, trace and quarantine strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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