ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday stated it would shut all schools and land borders and limit international flights and discourage large gatherings to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The measures were announced by ministers after a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan and attended by civilian and military leaders.
“It has been decided that all borders will remain closed for 15 days,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the local ARY and Dunya TV networks. “International flights will operate only out of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports.”
Pakistan had already shot down flight services to and from neighboring Iran, which has suffered one of the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreaks.
Educational establishments would be closed for three weeks until April 5, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood tweeted.
“This includes all schools and universities, public and private, vocational institutions and madaris.”
Pakistan borders China and Iran, both of which have been hit hard by the virus. The country’s health authorities reported 29 cases of the coronavirus but no deaths. Most of the people with infections had recently traveled to Iran, though the government reported its first locally contracted case on Friday.
Qureshi said all public gatherings will need to be discouraged whether wedding parties or religious, social or political assemblies. “We think we could contain it with effective measures. We need to avoid all public gatherings.”
Authorities also canceled Pakistan’s largest annual Islamic religious gathering, the Tableeghi Jamaat, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the outskirts of Lahore, and barred spectators from cricket league matches.
“I know there is a lot of emotional attachment to the Tableeghi Jamaat,” Qureshi said, and thanked its organisers for calling it off in the middle of a three-day session on Friday.