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03 Apr 2020 | 01:55 PM UTC

Pakistan: Worshipers clash with security forces in Sindh province amid COVID-19 lockdown April 3 /update 13

Clashes reported across Sindh province as security forces enforce COVID-19 lockdown April 3; follow official directives

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PAK

Event

Pakistani Muslims clashed with police at a mosque in the neighborhood of Liaquatabad town in Karachi on Friday, April 3, as security forces enforced restrictions preventing worshipers from gathering at mosques for Friday prayers amid the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Some worshipers reportedly threw stones at police, leading to the arrest of four people including the mosque's Imam. A complete lockdown is in place in Sindh province between 12:00 and 15:00 (local time) on Fridays to prevent people from gathering at mosques. Similar clashes were reported across the province on Friday.

Religious gatherings of more than five people during Friday prayers are banned across Pakistan as of April 3 to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, March 31, Pakistan Railways announced that it is extending its service suspension indefinitely. Special trains for healthcare workers and other passengers needing to travel in "emergencies" may run on specific dates. Passengers with travel reservations during the suspension period may reschedule or request a refund once Pakistan Railways resumes operations.

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 the virus. All restaurants and shopping malls will remain closed across the country, while public transportation is suspended; however, Pakistani citizens and residents may reportedly leave their homes to buy groceries and medicine and visit health facilities.

International flights remain suspended from Saturday, March 21, to Saturday, April 4. Cargo and diplomatic flights are exempt from the ban. All domestic flights are also suspended. Additionally, on Friday, March 13, the Pakistani government announced it would close all its land borders. Educational establishments, including all public and private schools and universities, are slated to be closed until Sunday, April 5.

As of Friday, April 3, 2458 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, alongside 35 associated fatalities and 126 recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming days and weeks.

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 trouble 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 COVID-19 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.