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Parts of Pakistan in Lockdown to Curb Spread of COVID-19

by Newsweek Pakistan

Number of confirmed cases nationwide rises to 892, with the majority occurring among pilgrims returning from Iran

Pakistan’s Punjab and Sindh provinces on Tuesday continued lockdowns, partial or otherwise, as part of measures to halt the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

On Monday, authorities in Punjab extended restrictions that been imposed over the weekend, with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar announcing that they would now remain in effect until April 6, 2020. Saying this was not a “lockdown,” Buzdar claimed it was merely a ban on unnecessary movement. Under the revised guidelines issued to the public:

  • Complete ban on movement of people unless absolutely necessary
  • Complete ban on all large gatherings of people, including social or religious and public or private events
  • Closures of all public and private offices, barring those deemed “essential”

The exemptions to the ban are healthcare professionals, law enforcement officials, food delivery services, people requiring medical aid, people purchasing essential groceries and medicines, necessary/unavoidable religious rites such as funeral prayers and burials.

The government has urged anyone traveling on the roads to carry identification so that security forces will permit their movement, and cautioned people against traveling too far outside their residential area.

The Punjab announcement came a day after Sindh province had issued similar restrictions—terming them a ‘shut down’—in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan. In a speech, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said he had “no other choice” left to save the people of the province from the pandemic.

Sindh has also shut down all public and private transport; banned the movement of people and large gatherings, and announced that no one would be allowed to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. The province has also limited the maximum number of passengers in any vehicle to three, and assured residents that supply chains would remain unaffected and there is no reason to resort to panic buying or hoarding.

The federal government, meanwhile, is set to announce a raft of economic and social policies designed to aid the most impoverished who are set to be most impacted by the lockdowns being enforced across Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly asserted that Pakistan cannot afford a sustained shutdown, and with both Punjab and Sindh on lockdown for two weeks, he has yet to announce how the government hopes to cope.

The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, which originated in China’s Wuhan city last year, has climbed to 892 in Pakistan with six reported deaths and six recoveries.

Overall Tally

Confirmed Cases – 892

Punjab – 249

Sindh – 399

Balochistan – 110

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – 38

Islamabad – 15

Gilgit-Baltistan – 80

Pakistan-administered Kashmir – 1

Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 380,000 people with at least 16,500 deaths. The World Health Organization continues to recommend aggressive testing and social distancing as the best means to curb the spread of the virus.

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