Pakistan shuts Chaman border to check virus spread
File photo of Torkham border.
Pakistan has shut its border crossing at Chaman with Afghanistan in order to check the spread of coronavirus but there was no word about closing the Torkham border.
According to a notification issued by the Interior Ministry in Islamabad on Sunday, in the first phase the closure of the Chaman border with Afghanistan is for one week starting from Monday, March 2.
The decision came after Afghanistan confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Monday with several others being tested for the virus.
In addition to the border closure, strict precautionary measures have also been in place in border areas to stop the coronavirus spread, including the establishment of an isolation ward at a local hospital. Isolation wards have also been set up at Pak-Afghan Friendship Hospital, Landi Kotal and hospitals in Jamrud.
Moreover, screening at the Babe-e-Dosti border crossing in Chaman is on going. Screening checkpoints have also been set up at Torkham border for those coming into the country from Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.
According to Balochistan health department, more than 10,000 people have undergone screening in the last five days at the Chaman border.
Separately, Levies officials on Sunday said 510 pilgrims from Iran were under quarantine at the Pakistan House. A day earlier, Balochistan authorities declared 252 pilgrims from Iran free from coronavirus after putting them under quarantine for 15 days.
The move also came after Pakistani authorities on Saturday had confirmed two more cases of coronavirus as the total number of cases in the country reached four. All four cases have been related to those persons who had returned from Iran recently.
The third Pakistani patient of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, is a female patient belonging to Gilgit Baltistan and had been put into isolation and was under treatment. She had also returned from Iran recently. All her recent contacts had been quarantined and were being monitored.
Elaborate arrangements were already in place at the Torkham border to prevent the spread of coronavirus from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
A team of 13 expert doctors and medical staff has screened 143,958 people entering Pakistan from Afghanistan via Torkham border during the last three weeks.
Isolation wards have already been set up at hospitals in Torkham, Landikotal and Jamrud to deal with suspected coronavirus cases.
So far, over 2,980 deaths have been confirmed from coronavirus in the world and over 89,000 others have been infected. Pakistan is facing a huge challenge to avoid the disease as the virus has already made entry into the neighbouring Afghanistan and Iran.
Pakistan has already closed its border with Iran, while Turkey has also done so to prevent the spread of the virus.