Provincial information minister says restrictions are in place to protect people from the coronavirus
The Sindh government has announced that it would strictly enforce restrictions on congregational prayers in the province, especially during the weekly Friday prayers.
“The purpose of the measures being adopted is to protect the people against the coronavirus,” Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah told journalists on Friday morning. He said the ongoing lockdowns, while a hassle in the short-term, would overall make the lives of people safer.
Shah urged people to offer their prayers at homes, and limit all unnecessary movement between the hours of 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. He also asked citizens to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in ensuring the restrictions were not violated to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“The restrictions on prayer congregations have been enforced to protect the lives of citizens,” he reiterated. “The religious leaders have backed the efforts made by the Sindh government in this regard,” he added.
Also on Friday, the Pakistan Ulema Council urged people across Sindh to adhere to government orders restricting congregational prayers to curb the spread of the coronavirus. In a statement released to the media, the council said that people should follow social distancing protocols and pray at home instead of joining large Friday prayer congregations where the virus could spread freely.
Last week, there were reports of people assaulting police officers trying to prevent them from offering congregational prayers. In several cases, paramilitary Rangers had to be summoned to maintain the peace and disperse the belligerent crowds.
Nationally, Pakistan now has 4,601 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 2,279 in Punjab and 1,128 in Sindh. Experts believe these numbers are likely far less than the actual infections as Pakistan’s testing capacity remains severely limited with only 54,706 tests administered nationwide in a nation of 220 million.