Pak Suspends Domestic Flights as Coronavirus Cases Cross 1,000

Pakistan has suspended all domestic flight operations until 2 April to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus after the country reported over 1,000 cases and seven deaths from the COVID-19 infection, authorities said on Wednesday, 25 March.

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients touched 1,037 with 413 cases in Sindh; 115 in Balochistan; 296 in Punjab; 117 in K-P; 80 in Gilgit-Baltistan; 15 in Islamabad; and one in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, The Express Tribune reported.

The National Disaster Management Authority has said that so far, seven people have died due to the novel Coronavirus and 18 recovered.

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In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, the country has halted its domestic flights operations. Abdul Sattar Khokhar, the spokesman of Aviation Division, said that the decision was part of ongoing efforts to contain the deadly coronavirus. The ban will be effective from Thursday, 26 March, Khokhar said.

According to a statement on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority's website on Tuesday, the government has "decided to suspend all types of domestic scheduled/non-scheduled, chartered and private aircraft passenger flight operations with effect from Thursday, 26 March, at 6:00 am up to 2 April, 2020."

Pakistan has already suspended international flights this week. However, cargo flights are exempted from the flight suspension ban.

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Meanwhile, there is complete lockdown in the country and people have been told to remain inside of their homes. They are only allowed to go out in case of emergency. The government has pledged to increase testing capability and other facilities in hospitals as new medical supplies are expected to start pouring in from China by 27 March, according to NDMA Chief Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal.

According to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, there are 417,966 confirmed cases across the world, 18,615 deaths and 107,705 recoveries.

On 24 March Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a multi-billion rupee stimulus package to combat Coronavirus and to facilitate poor people in the prevailing circumstances.

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The government also suspended all passenger train operations through the country till 31 March and deployed army to assist the civil administration to enforce a nationwide lockdown to contain the virus outbreak.

Khan said Rs 200 billion has been allocated for the labour class to mitigate their sufferings, while the government is also reaching provinces and the business community to extend their assistance. He said the government was highly conscious of its responsibilities and it was due to various policies and steps that the Coronavirus was still contained in the country.

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