By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan’s government has decided to halt all international flights for two weeks after the South Asian nation moved to next category of Coronavirus outbreak i.e. from importing virus to transmitting it locally.
The country’s national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced suspension of all international flights until March 28.
“The measure has been taken as part of the efforts to contain the potential spread of coronavirus in the country,” said a spokesperson of the PIA , adding that the decision has come into effect at 8pm on March 21 and international flights will resume on March 28.
However, those flights that left the country would be allowed to return, the spokesperson further said.
Meanwhile, Karachi and Lahore airport administrations have also started screening passengers on domestic flights. The travellers will have to go through screening procedures before boarding and after disembarking from the flights.
Besides the flights, trains on 12 routes in Pakistan have also come to a halt. Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced that the Pakistan Railways has decided to close down the operations of its 34 express trains in different phases, with the first 12 trains to come to standstill from March 22 as a precautionary measure to avoid the spread of Corona pandemic.
Pakistan Railways has also decided to increase the stopovers of its express trains to avoid congestion at main railway stations of big cities.
Currently, 134 trains are running across the country and it has been decided that the operations of 34 trains would be closed by April 1.
In the beginning, it was decided that the operations of 12 express trains will be stopped from March 22 (Sunday) while the decision regarding the suspension of the operations of remaining trains will be made on March 25.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has started steps to increasing the social distancing including the closure of shopping malls and recreational places in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab.
The government of central province of Punjab has urged the people to remain indoor on Sunday and Monday as a part of its plans for partial lockdown of the biggest province of Pakistan to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Southern province of Sindh has already taken a number of measures that has affected the daily life , a little short of lockdown.
” Federal government should lockdown the country before it is too late to counter the epidemic; We will cooperate with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in overcoming the Coronavirus that has become a pandemic by affecting most of the countries on the globe,” said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leader of left leaning Pakistan People’s Party.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan is relectuant to lockdown the country as he believes that the locakdown would result in unemployment that is already a big problem in Pakistan.
By Muhammad Luqman