March 19, 2020 2:26:32 pm
Pakistan’s coronavirus cases jumped after more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive for the disease.
The nation reported 204 cases on Wednesday from 94 two days ago, according to data by National Institute of Health. About 60% of the cases are people with recent travel history to bordering Iran, the country with the third-highest number of infections, as part of a pilgrimage to holy shrines, according to government data. The jump makes it South Asia’s most affected by the outbreak. Rest of the region has 166 cases with about 90% in India.
The government in Pakistan’s Sindh province, which has the most number of cases, has restricted public movement, closed malls and curtailed hospital out patient facilities, while schools across the country have been closed. Authorities even stopped a wedding in Karachi for violating rules.
Pakistan sealed its 900-kilometer (560 mile) border with Iran last week. It also quarantined 3,000 people in a makeshift tent city for 14 days but many positive cases were detected among them after they were let off. The officials from provincial governments of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have blamed the federal government of negligence in not properly screening the pilgrims who returned from Iran at the border.
Pakistan’s state health minister said last week it wasn’t possible to quarantine all travelers at airports as there isn’t enough capacity.
“For God’s sake don’t go to the hospital if you have a cough or a flu” because there is not enough testing capacity, Prime Minister Imran Khan, said in an address to the nation on Tuesday. “Avoid any gathering including religious ones with more than 40 people, and confined rooms since it spreads faster”.
Since most cases came from overseas, Khan asked them to self quarantine upon return.
Across Pakistan’s eastern border, India said 276 of its citizens overseas have contracted the disease. A bulk of the infected are in Iran and United Arab Emirates, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.
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