Pakistan seals borders with Afghanistan, Iran

In this file photo, Pakistani soldiers wearing facemasks stand guard at the closed Pakistan-Iran border in Taftan on February 25, 2020 as fears over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus escalate following an outbreak in neighboring Iran. (AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Pakistan seals borders with Afghanistan, Iran

  • Only Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi airports will operate international flights
  • Government does not declare national emergency

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Friday evening announced the closure of the country’s borders with Afghanistan and Iran with immediate effect to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The two-week closure follows the National Security Committee’s (NSC) meeting in Islamabad earlier in the day.
“By closing the borders, we are making sure that no infected person enters Pakistan,” said Dr. Zafar Mirza, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser on public health.
He added that only three airports of the country — in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi — will remain open for international flights.
“There is nothing more important than safety of people … all these measures are part of a strategy to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.
While no national emergency has been declared, all educational institutions have been shut down and mass gatherings, including religious events, weddings and conferences, have been banned, also with immediate effect.
“The government hasn’t imposed any national emergency ... it’s a major thing and we aren’t invoking it at this stage,” Moeed Yusuf, special assistant to the prime minister on national security, told reporters after the NSC meeting.
Courts have been requested to adjourn all proceedings in civil cases for three weeks.
Keeping in view possible food shortages, the Ministry of National Food Security is going to prepare a contingency plan.
Pakistan Day’s military parade on March 23 has also been canceled.
It is for the first time in the country’s history that NSC discussed response to contagious disease. The committee’s meeting was presided over by the prime minister, attended by key ministers and all military service chiefs/
The NSC is a top decision-making body on national security.
Pakistan has recorded 28 coronavirus infection cases since Feb. 26. Two persons are known to have recovered. The virus has spread to over 135 countries and killed more than 5,000 people, most of them in the mainland China.


Two more lawmakers with virus die in Pakistan as new cases spike

Updated 18 min 57 sec ago

Two more lawmakers with virus die in Pakistan as new cases spike

  • Critics accuse government of easing restrictions when stricter lockdown was needed 
  • Pakistan has recorded a total of 76,512 confirmed cases and 1,688 deaths since February

KARACHI:  Two Pakistani lawmakers have died after testing positive for the coronavirus amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Officials said Tuesday that Munir Khan Orakzai, a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, died in northwest Pakistan. They said a minister in the southern Sindh province, Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, died at a hospital in the port city of Karachi.
Their deaths came weeks after the first virus-related death of a lawmaker in Pakistan took place in the eastern city of Lahore.
Pakistan on Tuesday reported 78 deaths in the past 24 hours from the country’s outbreak.
Critics blame Prime Minister Imran Khan for an increase in deaths and infections. They accuse him of easing restrictions last month at a time when there was a need to enforce a stricter lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
Pakistan has recorded a total of 76,512 confirmed cases and 1,688 deaths since February.