Pakistan eid disinfect worshippers
A man sprays disinfectant among worshippers attending an Eid Al Fitr prayer at a ground in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, May 24, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Fearing a further increase in the number of coronavirus cases across Pakistan, the local administration in Murree and Swat has banned tourists’ entry and directed all hotels, lodges and private rest houses in these areas not to allow anyone at their premises.

This measure has been taken to prevent influx of tourists and revellers to these popular tourist spots on the eve of Eid Al Fitr.
According to Anwarul Haq, the deputy commissioner of police in Rawalpindi, all tourist spots and hotels in Murree will remain closed during Eid Al Fitr holidays from May 22-27 as part of precautionary measures. Haq further said that all tourism-related facilities had already been suspended in these places. “The decision has been taken to control the spread of COVID-19 and in the best interest of the people so that they can be protected from the virus,” he added.

According to the National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC), Pakistan has recorded 1,600 new cases of coronavirus over the last 24 hours, thereby taking the overall tally of infected cases to 54,600, while the number of deaths jumped to 1,133 from — an increase of 122.

According to the NCOC, out of a total of 12,915 tests conducted during the last 24 hours all over Pakistan, 1,600 had tested positive.

Alarmed at the fast-increasing number of new cases of coronavirus infection countrywide, the federal and provincial governments have separately issued warnings to the public that the ease in lockdown could be withdrawn if people continued to violate the standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding prevention of coronavirus.

However, despite these warnings and a steady rise in the number of infected persons, people are still showing scant respect for SOPs and have indulged in Eid shopping until late on Saturday night. Markets and shopping malls also remained overcrowded.

Only residents of Murree are allowed to enter the hill station, but they too are required to produce the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) or some other acceptable proof of residence.

In the Malakand division too, that includes Swat Valley and other tourist points, strict implementation of lowdown measures is in place. Not only is tourists’ entry banned, but restaurants in the area have also been directed to keep their services closed during the Eid holidays.

According to an official from the district administration, due to COVID-19, a ban on the entry of tourists has been imposed in entire Malakand. It is in their own interest that people should avoid travelling to Swat or any other tourist spot, officials said.