The relevant authorities are encouraging people to buy sacrificial animals online or at least wear masks when visiting cattle markets, fearing preparations for Eidul Azha could reverse the decline in Covid-19 infection numbers.
On the other hand, social-distancing restrictions, including half-day closing, have seen a drop in customers at the normally bustling cattle markets which, are set up in urban centres ahead of Eid.
The main cattle market of Karachi was less busy on Sunday, just six days ahead of Eid, than it had been in preceding years, witnesses said.
Trader Allah Ditta, who travelled hundreds of miles to sell his stock, said his customers had almost halved.
Meanwhile, most visitors flouted the requirement to wear masks, and many were accompanied by children who, this year, have been restricted from visiting cattle markets.
“I don’t understand this coronavirus. I have not seen anyone dying of it,” said another trader Muhammad Akram, exasperated by the decline in sales. “Look around you: No one is wearing a mask.”
Pakistan has reported over 270,000 Covid-19 casesm including over 100,000 from Sindh, and almost 6,000 deaths, over 2,000 of which are reported from Sindh.
Daily cases of new infection numbered just under 1,200 in the country on Sunday versus a peak last month nearing 7,000 around Eidul Fitr.
“In the last four weeks there has been significant slowdown in the pandemic’s spread, with an 80% decline in deaths,” State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza said on Sunday - three weeks after he himself tested positive for Covid-19.
“Last Eid, since gatherings increased, people travelled, and this interaction caused cases to spike,” Mizra said. “People should take it very seriously and act responsibly. There is a chance that cases might go up again, like Spain.”
While market visitors have fallen, more people are paying charities to slaughter cattle on their behalf and deliver their cut to them or donate it to the needy.
Shakil Dehelvi, joint secretary-general of Alamgir Welfare Trust, said the charity had received its target booking number twice as quickly as last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2020.