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Pakistan Begins Partial Lockdown Ahead Of Eid Al-Fitr

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan.

Pakistan has declared an eight-day partial lockdown starting May 8 in a bid to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr next week.

The government said that all markets, nonessential businesses, and tourism sites will remain closed and travel across the country will be restricted until May 16.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, meat shops, bakeries, and food takeaways were exempt from the shutdown.

Eid al-Fitr, which comes at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, usually sees the mass movement of people around the country, as families gather for celebrations, and shopping centers, parks, and tourist spots become packed with visitors.

Defying the restrictions, large crowds of people thronged to markets and shopping centers in cities and towns across the country on May 8 to shop for the upcoming Eid.

Pakistan is currently battling a third wave of the coronavirus. The country is mindful of neighboring India's ongoing crisis with a deadly second wave.

Since last year, Pakistan has reported 18,797 deaths from COVID-19 among 854,240 cases. But with limited testing and the struggling health-care sector, many believe that the real figures are much higher than the official statistics.

On May 8, the country received its first batch of 1.2 million AstraZeneca doses under the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing scheme.

Authorities said in a statement that another batch of 1,236,000 was expected to arrive in a few days.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and the BBC