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21 Mar 2020 | 09:20 AM UTC

Pakistan: International flights suspended until April 4 /update 8

Government suspends international flights from March 21 to April 4 over COVID-19 concerns; confirm travel itineraries

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PAK

Event

Authorities announced that all international flights will be temporarily suspended from 20:00 (local time) on Saturday, March 21, to 20:00 on Saturday, April 4, in an effort to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Cargo and diplomatic flights will nonetheless be exempted from the ban.

On Friday, March 13, the government announced it would close all its land borders for 15 days. Educational establishments, including all schools and universities, public and private, are due to close until Sunday, April 5.

As of Saturday, March 21, health officials have confirmed 501 COVID-19 cases in Pakistan. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.  

Context

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 (Hubei province, 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 the global outbreak 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.

Advice

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 risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with 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.