Seven days from Monday, Pakistan will close its border with Afghanistan to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday, as the authorities have stepped up efforts to stop new cases of infection.
The announcement came a day after two more people tested positive for Pakistan’s novel coronavirus, taking the country’s total number of infections to four.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Interior said that the border at Chaman in Balochistan will remain closed for seven days from March 2 “to prevent the spread of coronavirus on both sides of the border in the best interest of the people of the fraternal countries”
“The appropriate measures will be taken over the time to protect the health of the people of both countries,” it said.
The authorities have shut down schools in Sindh’s southern province, including Karachi where the first case was registered, and Baluchistan’s southwest province, which borders Iran, reported The Express Tribune.
They have also started to track almost 8,000 pilgrims who recently returned from Iran to the country.
The authorities have quarantined more than 200 of the pilgrims at the Taftan border and have stepped up screening measures at airports and other border crossings, including in western Afghanistan, said Zafar Mirza, a government health advisor.
A young man from Karachi tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday becoming Pakistan’s first confirmed case. A further case was reported shortly after. They’d both returned from Iran.
Pakistan declared on Thursday that it would suspend all flights to Iran, the latest coronavirus outbreak hotbed, as authorities scrambled to screen hundreds of people recently arrived from Teheran.
The land and rail ties with Iran-where the coronavirus outbreak took 43 lives and infected 593 people, the highest outside of China-have already been snapped due to infection scare.
Reportedly the novel virus originated in December last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, killing 2,870 people and infecting 79,824.