On Monday, March 23, Pakistan deployed its army to enforce lockdown measures after all provincial governments ordered a complete or partial lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All restaurants, public transportation, and shopping malls will remain closed across the country; however, Pakistani citizens and residents will reportedly be allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries and medicines and visit health facilities.
The move comes after Pakistani authorities announced all international flights would be temporarily suspended from 20:00 (local time) on Saturday, March 21, to 20:00 on Saturday, April 4, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Cargo and diplomatic flights are exempted from the ban. Additionally, on Friday, March 13, the Pakistani government announced it would close all its land borders for 15 days. Educational establishments, including all public and private schools and universities, are slated to be closed until Sunday, April 5.
As of March 23, over 870 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Pakistan. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.