Officials declared local lockdowns in at least 40 areas of the Punjab city of Lahore on Thursday, June 25, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continue to rise in the city. Travel to and within the areas, including the major residential districts of Johar Town, Gulberg, Model Town, Garden Town, Faisal Town, Askari 10, and the Defence Housing Authority, is to be severely restricted, with security forces establishing checkpoints on roads leading in and out of the areas. Residents will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for essential supplies or seek medical attention, although law enforcement personnel, health workers, and journalists are exempt from these restrictions. All non-essential businesses in the lockdown areas have also been ordered to close.
Punjab, and Lahore in particular, have been at the center of Pakistan's COVID-19 epidemic, with 71,191 cases and 1602 deaths from the disease confirmed as of June 25.
The move comes two weeks after the government placed Lahore and 19 other cities in Pakistan with more than 300 confirmed COVID-19 cases under two-week lockdowns. The localized movement restrictions allow authorities to implement stricter measures in COVID-19 hotspots.
Pakistan lifted its previous countrywide lockdown in May, 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 social distancing 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 reintroduce a strict nationwide lockdown due to the potential economic impact.
As of June 25, there have been 192,970 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with 3903 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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