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Eid: Sales of sacrificial cattle at Pakistan markets fall as worshippers go online

Karachi, Pakistan: Business isn't as robust as usual for cattle traders in Pakistan as people who usually buy sacrificial animals ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha are going online, rather than to the dusty markets to make their purchases amid coronavirus concerns.

The government has imposed social distancing restrictions including a half-day closure of the markets to discourage crowds that gather at the markets. This too has led to a drop in customers set up on the outskirts of urban centres ahead of one of Islam's most important festivals., told Reuters his customers had almost halved.

"We are very worried. Customers don't turn up during the day because it is hot. In the night they (government) have disallowed the customers," said trader Allah Ditta, who travelled over 700 kilometres from the city of Muzzafargarh to sell his stock.
Authorities are advising people to make their purchases of sacrificial animals virtually, or at least wear masks when visiting cattle markets as they fear preparations for the holidays could reverse a recent decline in the country's COVID-19 infection number. Most visitors flouted a requirement to wear masks, and many were accompanied by children who this year are barred at the main cattle market of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city at the weekend.

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. "Due to the pandemic and lockdown, people's interest in online bookings (for collective sacrifice) have increased. In just 30 days we are almost fully booked, this used to take two months in previous years," said Shakil Dehelvi, joint secretary-general of Alamgir Welfare Trust whose charity has received its target booking number twice as quickly as last year.
Pakistan has reported over 270,000 COVID-19 cases with almost 6,000 deaths. Daily cases of new infection numbered just under 1,200 on Sunday versus a peak last month nearing 7,000 around another festival, Eid al-Fitr.

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