–People defy Friday prayer ban, beat up police officials in Sindh
KARACHI/LAHORE: The number of coronavirus infections in the country crossed 2,600 on Friday, with the federal and provincial governments struggling to prevent people from going to mosques to attend the Friday prayers.
As of Friday night, Punjab led the tally of COVID-19 cases with over 1,069 cases, followed up by Sindh with 789 infections. Balochistan detected 169 cases whereas Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tally stood at 343. Islamabad and Kashmir/Gilgit-Baltistan have reported 199 and 68 cases, respectively.
A total of 40 people have lost their lives since the outbreak, whereas over 100 patients have recovered.
Sindh Health and Population Welfare Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho confirmed 14th death in the province. The 54-year-old patient in Hyderabad had tested positive today and had gotten infected through local transmission. The patient had a neurological disorder that had compromised his immune system.
Two patients died earlier in the day. They were residents of Karachi and had tested positive on April 1. One patient, who was 60 years of age, had heart problems and was placed on a ventilator. The other patient, who was 82, had renal issues.
Two people also died in KP.
Despite appeals by the government and religious figures, prayers-goers paid no heed and thronged the mosques across the country, putting the country at further risk of coronavirus outbreak, already facing a spike in cases related to members of Tableeghi Jamaat, which had planned a congregation in Lahore last month.
The meeting was postponed but by then hundreds of people had already arrived at the premises and they stayed on.
Ahead of Friday congregations, Sindh went on a complete lockdown to discourage the public gatherings, with police deployed outside mosques and public intersections.
“Governments have to make difficult and painful decisions for the greater good of the public,” said Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Sindh’s minister for local bodies and information. In the greater interest of saving lives, a decision to restrict the prayer congregations at mosques has been taken following a meeting of clerics from all schools of thought.
However, people who wanted to offer Friday prayer didn’t pay heed to what the government was saying, which led to some ugly scenes.
In Karachi’s Liaquatabad region, police and prayer-goers clashed outside a mosque when people forced that they would offer the prayer in the basement of the Ghousia Masjid.
When the police intercepted them, a brawl resulted. Two policemen on duty were beaten up by the people. A bigger contingent of police took control of the situation and also registered a case against the prayer leader.