Pakistan closes land border with Afghanistan to contain coronavirus

In this photograph taken on January 7, 2017, Pakistan security personnel look on as travellers wait to cross the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Chaman. (AFP)
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Updated 02 March 2020

Pakistan closes land border with Afghanistan to contain coronavirus

  • Pakistan has also closed land border with Iran where death toll from infections has soared
  • There are presently four confirmed cases of the virus on Pakistani soil

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday closed its border with Afghanistan at Chaman crossing point for a preliminary one-week period amid fears the coronavirus epidemic could spread from the neighboring country.
The Pakistan embassy in Kabul said, Sunday, in a statement the Pak-Afghan crossing point at Chaman would be closed from Monday “to prevent the spread of cornavirus on both sides of the crossing point.”
The measure comes after several suspected coronavirus cases were reported in Afghanistan in recent days, and at least one was confirmed by officials. The war torn country’s health infrastructure is unequipped to deal with a major outbreak. 
Last week, Pakistani border authorities deployed health teams at Torkham and Ghulam Khan border crossing points to screen out all people and vehicles entering Pakistan. 
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan also closed their land borders with Iran last week, after the virus death toll in that country clocked in at the highest of any country outside the disease epicenter of China. A majority of the infected patients in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been traced back to Iran.
Pakistan’s State Minister for Health, Zafar Mirza, confirmed on Saturday that the country had detected two new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of patients with the infection to four. In a little over two months, the disease has killed almost 3,000 people worldwide and infected more than 86,000.
Mirza further said during Saturday’s media briefing that all entry points to Pakistan would be under more stringent surveillance and any persons coming from affected countries would be quarantined for tests. Affected countries and territories now clock in at 64 around the world.


Pakistan says ‘entitled’ to 20 million CanSino doses if vaccine effective

Updated 16 min 27 sec ago

Pakistan says ‘entitled’ to 20 million CanSino doses if vaccine effective

  • Health chief says Pakistan’s first Phase 3 clinical trial for CanSino’s candidate, Ad5-nCoV, was nearly complete 
  • Says more than a million doses of China’s Sinopharm’s vaccin expected in March. 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s de facto health chief said this week a Phase 3 clinical trial for a potential vaccine being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics was nearly complete and Pakistan would get 20 million doses if the vaccine turned out to be “effective.”
Pakistan’s clinical trial for CanSino’s candidate, Ad5-nCoV, led by the government-run National Institute of Health (NIH) along with pharmaceutical company AJM — the local representative of CanSino — started in September.

FILE PHOTO: Vials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a recombinant adenovirus vaccine named Ad5-nCoV, co-developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc and a team led by Chinese military infectious disease expert, are pictured in Wuhan, Hubei province, China March 24, 2020. (Reuters/File)

Dr. Faisal Sultan, the health adviser, told reporters on Wednesday the trials, in which 17,500 people had participated, were “near completion.” Pakistan has a population of over 220 million people.
“Their results will come soon,” he told a press conference. “The statistical analysis of the [CanSino] vaccine has started and we expect results at the beginning of February. Pakistan is entitled to 20 million doses on the condition that the vaccine is effective.”
Earlier this month, Sultan said Pakistan was speaking to a number of vaccine makers, and the country could get “in the range of tens of millions” of vaccine doses under an agreement with CanSinoBio.
Earlier this month, AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in Pakistan, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to get the green light for use in the South Asian country.
Sultan also said more than a million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine from China were expected in in March.