Another Eid amid record infections
As we enter the final day before this year's Eid-ul-Azha, the second-biggest religious festival of the country, it is more important than ever to remember its message of sacrifice. According to Islam, it's not just the animals that get sacrificed. Through the act of slaughtering and sharing food and meat with the less fortunate, believers are expected to undergo a spiritual transformation in which they "sacrifice" their sense of entitlements. It teaches us the importance of social responsibility which, in a time of pandemic, should also extend to exercising self-control by limiting in-person gatherings and abiding by other health guidelines, so that this festival of feasting doesn't turn into a festival of rules violations, leading to disastrous consequences.
This Eid, the awareness of social responsibility is particularly important as new infections of Covid-19 soar to record levels across the country, with hospitals in many districts struggling to keep up with an increasing patient load. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of people have already left cities to celebrate the Eid with their loved ones, taking advantage of the government's decision to ease lockdown for eight days. The decision couldn't come at a worse time, experts say, as they fear it would exacerbate the ongoing surge fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant.
There's no point in discussing the merit of this decision now. The important thing is for the authorities to remain vigilant so that the health guidelines are enforced strictly. Unfortunately, we've had worrying reports from the cattle markets where there has been little compliance with the government's safety directives. On the streets and across shopping malls and urban spaces, many were seen without masks and flouting physical distancing rules. All modes of public transport are supposed to carry passengers at 50 percent capacity to minimise Covid-19 transmission—a directive that few appear to be following. Overcrowding has been reported in almost all modes of public transport. The health implication of this state of affairs will be dire. And one can only imagine what the situation will be like if people carry this attitude to their village homes.
This cannot go on if we want to prevent this Eid from becoming another super-spreading occasion. The government and local administrations must undertake regular drives and inspections in all districts to ensure the health guidelines are enforced during the holiday. The city and municipality authorities in all districts should take steps to ensure slaughter hygiene and cleanliness on Eid day. Most importantly, the citizens should be more pro-active in ensuring that everyone in their neighbourhoods comply with the safety rules, even if it means forgoing the habitual gatherings and reunions. We must embrace and promote this message of sacrifice during this holiday.
Wishing our valuable readers and patrons a safe and happy Eid!