On Saturday, April 25, the Pakistani government extended the nationwide lockdown through Saturday, May 9, due to an increase in cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that the country would adopt a 'smart lockdown' process, whereby tracking and tracing of cases would be emphasized. Some commercial and industrial activities will resume so long as safety guidelines are respected. Originally due to expire on Thursday, April 20, the lockdown prevents the public from leaving their homes unless they are buying groceries, acquiring medicine, or visiting healthcare facilities. All restaurants and shopping malls remain closed across the country, and public transportation is suspended. The army has been deployed to enforce these restrictions. Prayer congregations over Ramadan have also been permitted, except in the province of Sindh, which has been identified as high-risk for the spread of the virus.
On Saturday, April 18, the Pakistani government announced that the ban on domestic and international flights, which was originally extended through Tuesday, April 21, will continue until Thursday, April 30. Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has allowed private airlines to carry out domestic operations "subject to compliance with relevant Standard Operating Procedures." These airlines will reportedly operate between Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.
Pakistan's Interior Ministry announced on Monday, April 13, that all land borders will remain closed for an additional two weeks. Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed stated that the decision to resume train services would be taken on Sunday, May 10, if lockdown restrictions are raised.
As of April 25, there are 11,940 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 253 related death nationwide. 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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