The Ministry of Interior announced on Saturday, February 29, that it will close the Chaman border crossing point with Afghanistan from Monday, March 2, through to at least Sunday, March 8, to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). State Minister for Health Zafar Mirza said on Saturday that all entry points to Pakistan will be under strict surveillance, and that all individuals traveling from COVID-19-affected countries will be quarantined for tests. All border crossings with Iran remain closed since Sunday, February 23. Associated transportation disruptions are possible in the coming days and weeks.
Ministry of Health officials have confirmed at least four cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan, as of March 2. Further spread of the COVID-19 virus is expected in 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 (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 February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
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.
Potentially affected travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home government.
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 flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.