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Pakistan-administered Kashmir Rescinds Ease in Lockdown

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider says escalating spread of coronavirus does not permit lifting restrictions

Rescinding an earlier decision to ease lockdown restrictions in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider on Sunday issued a notification saying the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in recent days had prompted a rethink.

In line with the rest of Pakistan, the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir had announced easing lockdown restrictions to boost the economy after Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed in a media briefing that the coronavirus situation “was under control.” However, after the territory reported 26 new infections in the past week—bringing its total confirmed cases to 112—its government has decided to clamp down once more.

According to the notification, Haider suspended all exemptions that had already been granted to ease movement restrictions, citing an “escalating spread of coronavirus in the region and dangerous levels of increase in the number of patients.”

It said that a complete lockdown would come into effect at midnight, May 18 (today), and would remain in effect for the next two weeks. Shops for basic necessities and medical stores would remain open in line with earlier guidelines, it added.

The prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir also urged the people to cooperate with the government’s preventative measures, saying the directives had been issued to safeguard everyone from the pandemic. He said that transport services would not be resumed during this time, adding that no one should step out of their home unnecessarily.

“The current situation does not warrant that people go out for Eidul Fitr shopping. Celebrate Eid simply,” he said.

Nationwide, there are currently 42,125 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 903 deaths and 11,922 recoveries. Pakistan-administered Kashmir comprises 112 of the confirmed cases, with 1 death and 77 recoveries. It currently has 34 active cases of COVID-19.

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