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Cattle markets pose threats of communicable diseases

Cattle Trading and Transportation in the country is a permanent feature during Eid Ul Azha. Sacrificing animals on Eid days is a religious obligation for Muslims. Cattle business also generates a significant economic boost for the country.
On the other hand, this huge movement of livestock and mass gatherings at cattle markets always poses threats of communicable diseases like Cholera, Typhoid Fever, Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and Respiratory infections.
Eid-ul-Azha is a religious event that honors the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his own son on the instructions of Almighty Allah. Muslims have been honoring the practice by sacrificing animals on the occasion.
Apart from the religious sanctity, Eid-ul-Azha is also a source of revenue for animal and other allied industries. According to an estimate, there is a business worth Rs350-400 billion on Eid-ul-Azha in Pakistan and around four million animals including cows, goats, sheep and camels are sacrificed.
This year, in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic more comprehensive and focused approach, is required to mitigate and control the spread of COVID-19 at cattle markets across the country.
COVID-19- zoonotic origin disease
COVID-19 is considered zoonotic origin disease, though the confirmed link with the specific animal has not yet been established.
COVID-19 is a man to man highly transmissible disease which spreads through respiratory droplets produced during coughing, sneezing and talking of the infected person including a vast majority asymptomatic people.
The droplets may contaminate the surfaces and hands. An Individual’s hands can get contaminated after coming in contact with shared surfaces.
Touching eyes, mouth and nose with contaminated hands transmit the virus to the body that affects the respiratory system.
Frequent hand-hygiene, observing social, spatial distancing, abiding with respiratory etiquettes and surface disinfection are desired actions to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Following protective steps require in cattle markets
According to the government instructions, the cattle markets should be established at designated points, at least two to five kilometer away from city limits. However, the technical working group (TWG) recommended an increase in the number of cattle markets to manage the rush of traders and customers.
The management of cattle markets must ensure controlled entry to the market and the parking area would be marked for distanced parking. Only two people per vehicle would be allowed while the elderly and children would not be allowed to enter into the cattle markets.
The markets should ensure the provision of hand-hygiene facilities at entry points and multiple spots inside. No person would be allowed to enter without covering the face.
Thermal scanning of staff and visitors at entry points by trained personnel should be ensured. Medical camps with adequate staff, equipment and personal protective equipment would be established at the markets.
The CCHF was a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus with a case fatality rate of 10 to 40pc. The veterinary clinic staff would examine any animal reporting these symptoms and if suspect for COVID-19 infection, would ensure immediate isolation of sick animals for further assessment.
The information about the sick animals and its caretaker would be passed to the health department for assessment of the health condition of caretakers and his contacts. The public was asked to wear light-colored full sleeves and trousers for easy detection of ticks on clothes and bite protection.
Regularly examine clothing and skin for ticks, if found, remove them safely and use approved repellents on clothing and skin. Food points would be established at dedicated places with only take away services and meals would be served only in disposable utensils.
Waste Collection bins with a lid would be installed at places near each cattle market for disposal of waste. The awareness messages would also be displayed in the cattle markets at conspicuous places.
The government should ensure every possible step to limit COVID-19
According to conservative estimates, the country suffered a loss of Rs25-35 billion this. It is usual that preparations commence for Eid-ul-Azha right after Ramzan, but there is now looming uncertainty over the religious festival as SOPs are not being followed according to government instructions.
There is an increased risk of the spread of coronavirus but also the loss of business and reaching an optimal level is improbable as people fail to enforce safety precautions.
It was important to strictly follow the SOPs both by buyers and traders of the animal market and administration has to ensure the people should adopt the SOP.
The sacrifice of animals on Eid-ul-Azha is a religious obligation and the government should ensure every possible facility in this regard to manage the occasion safely and contain the risk of COVID-19 outbreak.
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