1 million people could be at COVID-19 risk on Eid al-Adha if...

1 million people could be at COVID-19 risk on Eid al-Adha if precautions not taken, expert warns

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The head of the Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons of Istanbul has warned that 1 million people could be at risk of contracting the COVID-19 disease during Eid al-Adha, when thousands of people flock to unsanitary animal markets to slaughter livestock animals as a custom.

“Animals to be sacrificed will be put on sale by July 16 and people will come to these markets,” Murat Arslan told daily Hürriyet.

Animal markets across the country every year on Eid al-Adha attract thousands of people coming from different provinces, as they cram marketplaces, where they inspect animals to sacrifice and shake hands with sellers.

Muslims across the world celebrate the Festival of Sacrifice by the killing of sheep, goats or cows, a mandatory custom for those practicing the religion to share with the poor.

Last year around 150,000 animals were sacrificed in Istanbul and some 3.5 million across Turkey, according to official data.

Arslan said face masks should be made mandatory inside the markets, while suggesting disposable plastic shoe covers should be worn at entrances and thrown away at exits.

Vigorous handshaking between the seller and the buyer after negotiating on a price is a tradition in Turkey, but Arslan said this should be abandoned completely until the end of the pandemic.

Arslan also recommended that people should not take the animals they buy outside the markets to slaughter on their own premises, but that they should be sacrificed in altars inside the market area.

“Everybody wants to sacrifice their animal on the first day of the holiday. But we should expand this length to three days to stop overcrowding in these markets,” Arslan suggested.

Tevfik Özlü, a doctor on the Health Ministry’s Science Board, also voiced his worries for Eid al-Adha, stressing that there will not be curfews and mosques will be opened for prayers.

Özlü said many members of the same family should not let in the markets, while sellers should accept customers on appointments and physical distancing measures should be strictly abided by.

Turkey recorded 1,086 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, a slight decline in the daily rate, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced.

Koca said the reason behind daily cases being above 1,000 was people’s complacency.

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