Friday Mar 13 2020
Web Desk

Pakistan set to seal border with Afghanistan, Iran to prevent coronavirus spread

Web Desk
A view of the border fence outside the Kitton outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan completely sealed its western border with Afghanistan and Iran to prevent the spread of the pandemic coronavirus, a notification issued Friday from the interior ministry said.

The decision comes after Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of the National Security Committee over the pandemic that has so far killed more than 5,000 people around the world. In Pakistan, the number of cases rose to 21 after another person tested positive in Sindh earlier today.

The order directs for the "complete sealing of western border of Pakistan with Afghanistan and Iran, as directed by the National Security Committee in its meeting held on 13th March 2020, for an initial period of two weeks (14 days) w.e.f. 16th March 2020".

The border closure would come into effect on March 16 "in the best interest of all three brotherly countries", the notification added.

Further, a decision "to close all educational institutions till April 5" was also made during the meeting, according to Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood. The educational institutions comprise public and private schools and universities, vocational institutions, and madrassas, he clarified.

"The situation regarding closure of all educational institutions in the country would be reviewed by the Ministry of Education on 27th March and further decisions taken," Mehmood added.

'People need not worry'

Shortly after the meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the federal and provincial governments were continuously monitoring the developments related to the novel coronavirus.

"People need not worry. Thanks God, the coronavirus pandemic is under control in Pakistan," Qureshi added. "The border needs to be closed for the next 15 days.

"The days of the Raiwind gathering have been reduced and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar informed that arrangements have been made in Dera Ghazi Khan.

"Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah apprised us of the measures taken in the province," the foreign minister explained, adding that China had very effectively fought the pandemic.

"We took proactive measures and that's why not many [people] were affected by the pandemic," he said, adding that cinema houses, movie theatres, marriage halls, and public gatherings should be closed down.