Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday, May 7, that Pakistan's nationwide lockdown will be lifted from Saturday, May 9, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The current lockdown prevents the public from leaving their homes unless they are buying groceries, acquiring medicine, or visiting health-care facilities. All restaurants and shopping malls remain closed and public transportation continues to be suspended. The army has been deployed to enforce these restrictions. Prayer congregations over Ramadan are permitted, except in the province of Sindh, which has been identified to be at high risk for further virus transmission.
The Pakistani government previously announced on Wednesday, April 29, that the suspension of all international flights would be extended until Friday, May 15. The Pakistani Aviation Division indicated that relief and cargo flights are exempt from the suspension.
Pakistan's land borders remain closed. Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed stated that the decision to resume train services would be taken on Sunday, May 10, if lockdown restrictions are lifted.
As of May 7, health authorities have confirmed 24,122 cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan, including 585 associated deaths. 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). 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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