by Raheela Nazir
Kamran Satti, a 48-year-old restaurant worker from Murree, a resort town located some 60 kilometers northeast of capital of Islamabad, was collecting pieces of firewood to combat chilly weather as mercury plunged below the freezing point in his town.
"The first spell of snow of this year in Murree has increased the intensity of cold. We do not have a constant supply of electricity or gas to keep our house warm in this shivery weather, so after finishing my work, I have to collect wood for fire to keep my family safe from the extreme weather," he said.
Satti said that though the cold weather has its drawbacks for him, yet on the brighter side his daily earnings have increased significantly as recently thousands of people flocked to scenic places of Murree, a popular winter holiday destination of Pakistan.
According to a recently released statement by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the first spell of rain and snowfall of the year 2022 will grip most parts of the country from Monday and may persist till Jan. 7.
Heavy rainfall may generate flash flooding in vulnerable parts of the country's southwest Balochistan province, and heavy snowfall in hilly areas may cause road closures, said the weather department, advising all the concerned authorities to remain alert during the forecast period.
As the cold spell has taken over Pakistan, the inflow of patients with winter-related health issues has amplified, creating further problems for the already burdened healthcare sector of the country.
In a conversation with Xinhua, Najma Kyani, a public health expert in Islamabad, said that at the time when hospitals in Pakistan are struggling to keep up with rising number of COVID-19 cases, fast spreading infectious diseases in the winter season only exacerbate the challenges posed by the epidemic.
"There is a rise in the number of people with flu, fever and painful joints visiting health facilities in the country," she said, adding that to avoid that people should stay indoors in chilly weather, wear warm clothes, eat healthy and keep themselves hydrated to strengthen their immune system against the diseases.
Winters in Pakistan also triggered a temporary gas crisis in various parts of the country. As the use of heaters, geysers, and generators grew with cold weather, the pressure of gas mounted in many areas nationwide.
Sakina Bibi, a housewife in eastern Gujranwala district, said that she hardly gets any supply of gas in her area due to severe gas load shedding which is affecting her daily household routine.
"Thousands of people in our area have been facing this problem. I am not able to cook food for my children. We have to buy it from the market everyday which is a strain on our pockets," she told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, a number of charity organizations and individuals have been distributing warm clothes, food and necessary medicines to poor people to cope with the cold weather.
Shehrayar Khan, who runs a charity organization in Rawalpindi district, told Xinhua that he has arranged more than 200 bags containing clothes and food this season and most of them were distributed among homeless people and refugee camps.
"The government is doing everything in its capacity to lessen the problems of a common man. I believe everyone should do something in his own capacity to contribute to the society," he said.