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Pakistan suspends flights to Iran after two confirmed cases of coronavirus


Press Trust of India Islamabad
Pakistan on Thursday announced to suspend all flights to Iran, the new hotbed of coronavirus epidemic, as authorities scrambled to screen hundreds of people who recently arrived from Tehran after two persons returning from the country tested positive for the deadly virus.
The land and rail links with Iran, where the coronavirus epidemic has claimed 26 lives and has infected 245 people, the highest outside China where COVID-19 originated, have already been snapped due to the scare of infection.
"Aviation Division has decided to cease all direct flights between Pakistan and Iran with effect from midnight between February 27 and 28 till further notice," Joint Secretary of Aviation Abdul Sattar Khokhar said.
Special Advisor on Health Zafar Mirza on Wednesday confirmed the first ever detection of coronavirus patients, including a 22-year old man from Karachi who returned from Iran on February 20.
The government has now collected the data for 1,500 people in Sindh province who have arrived in Pakistan from Iran recently, Murad Ali Shah, the chief minister for the southern province, told a press conference.
Pakistan's Sindh and Balochistan provinces closed all educational institutions after the first two cases of novel coronavirus were reported in the country.
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani announced on Twitter that all Govt and private educational institutions will remain closed on Thursday & Friday (27th & 28th Feb).
Balochistan government announced to close down all educational institutions across the province till March 15. An official handout said that the government took the step as a precaution to protect children from coronavirus.
Mirza in a late night media interaction in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, said that both the patients came from Iran but they were in stable condition.
He said the government had taken effective protective measures well in time to stop the outbreak of virus throughout the country.
He urged the citizens with travel history of Iran and China and having coronavirus symptoms to contact the medical experts.
Meanwhile, there are reports of shortage of face masks in the country as prices shot up.
Authorities have asked the people not to get panic as there was no threat of spread of the disease in the country.
Also, military spokesman said that the health ministry is tackling the situation effectively but armed forces would also provide all help to contain the virus.
"As far as the armed forces are concerned, we are absolutely ready to help out as and when the government asks us, and all our facilities are alert to the situation," he said during media interaction in Rawalpindi.
The virus has spread to more than 30 countries, killing over 2,700 and infecting 80,000, mostly in China.

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First Published: Feb 27 2020 | 6:44 PM IST

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