Pakistan's government announced on Thursday, August 6, the resumption of domestic flight operations at all airports bar Turbat, Pangjur, Dalbadin, Zhob, Pasni, Moenjodaro, Nawabshah, and Bahawalpur, as part of the easing of travel restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Flight providers must abide by strict health and safety measures, including the disinfection of aircraft prior to boarding, at least one vacant seat between the passengers, compulsory wearing of masks, and the use of hand sanitizer. No food and drinks will be served on domestic flights. Every passenger must fill out a health declaration form prior to boarding, and travelers will also be subject to thermal scanning at the time of departure and arrival. Airlines are operating inbound and outbound commercial international flights from all international airports bar Gwadar and Turbat.
Pakistani authorities introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, including school closures and limits on the size of public gatherings. Across Pakistan, it is mandatory to wear a face mask in public and not wearing one is punishable by a fine. Measures in place may vary from province to province. This includes a lockdown in Balochistan province, which has been extended through August 17. Under the lockdown restrictions shopping malls, markets, warehouses, auto-repair shops, and hair salons will be allowed to remain open from 09:00 to 19:00 (local time). Schools, universities, and colleges will remain closed. There is also a ban on gatherings greater than ten people.
As of August 6, health authorities have confirmed 281,863 COVID-19 cases with 6035 associated deaths in the country. Further international spread of the 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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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