Pakistan closes western borders, cancels March 23 parade
Academic institutions across country will remain closed till April 5
ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday decided to take a number of steps to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country, including closing the border with Iran and Afghanistan and cancelling the Pakistan Day parade held annually on March 23.
The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was attended by the provincial chief ministers and the civilian and military leadership.
The huddle decided that Pakistan's border entry points with Afghanistan and Iran will be closed for two weeks, the interior ministry announced.
It was also decided to close all educational institutions in the country till April 5, education minister Shafqat Mehmood tweeted.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told DawnNewsTV that the 23rd March parade has been cancelled.
It was decided during the meeting that only three airports in the country — Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore — will be allowed to operate international flights in limited numbers, while other airports will only allow domestic flights, according to a highly placed source who attended the NSC meeting.
The pilgrims who have returned to the country from Iran will be screened again, and will be placed under quarantine if they test positive for the virus.
Officials said foreign missions in Pakistan and Pakistan's missions abroad have been directed not to host any ceremonies or functions. Similarly, large public gatherings will be discouraged.
The NSC decided to give the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) the lead role in dealing with the coronavirus threat, officials told DawnNewsTV, adding that the authority will coordinate with the provincial governments to streamline the efforts.
A system for coordination between the federal and provincial governments will also be established, the sources said.
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood has said that academic institutions country-wide will be kept closed until April 5. Institutions include all schools and universities, both public and private as well as vocational institutions and seminaries, he added.
In another tweet, he said that the education ministry will review the situation on March 27.
With respect to the examinations scheduled during the time period, the education minister said that "respective schools and boards shall ensure that arrangements are made for the exams to be taken as per schedule".