On Friday, June 19, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) stated that international flights will resume from all airports, with the exception of Gwadar (GWD) and Turbat (TUK) international airports, from Saturday, June 20, after the suspension of air travel due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The PCCA stated that these flights would remain subject to restrictions imposed by authorities, including changes in scheduling to allow separation between arrivals and departures to comply with health guidelines. Travelers will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and will be quarantined in a government facility, or pay for private accommodation, until the test results are processed. Those testing negative will be released but must self-isolate for 14 days.
On Monday, June 15, Pakistani authorities placed 20 cities with more than 300 identified COVID-19 cases under two-week 'smart lockdowns'. Parts of Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta, Rawalpindi, and Lahore are affected by these measures. A full list of cities affected can be found here. The localized lockdowns allow authorities to implement restrictive measures for containment to curb the spread of the virus, including restricting movement in and out of some cities. Food stores and pharmacies will remain open in areas under lockdown.
Pakistan lifted its previous countrywide lockdown last month, introducing new regulations governing the reopening of markets, industries, and public transport, as well as making the wearing of face masks and social distancing mandatory. However, authorities stated that many markets and shops had been forced to close following breaches of the new rules, especially during the holiday period of Eid al-Fitr at the end of May. Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated that despite the rise in COVID-19 cases, Pakistan would not reenter a strict lockdown, as the country's economy was too fragile.
As of June 20, there have been 171,666 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with 3382 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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 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.
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.
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