Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Pakistan extends ban on commercial flights to at least April 11. Additional movement controls, restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Pakistan

This alert began 02 Apr 2020 14:09 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Date: Indefinite
  • Impact: Increased security, entry restrictions, flight disruptions, transport and business disruptions; possible clashes, immigration delays

Summary
Pakistani authorities have announced that all commercial passenger flights, including domestic and international services, will remain suspended through at least April 11. The restrictions, which began in late March, were originally scheduled to last until April 2. While commercial flights are banned, Pakistani authorities are arranging some emergency services to repatriate Pakistani nationals stranded abroad. Further extensions of flight bans are likely in the coming days. The measures are part of a series of nationwide policies meant to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Pakistani authorities have sealed off all border crossings with Iran and Afghanistan. Commercial operations - except for transport of essential goods - also remain suspended. Officials have closed the Attari-Wagah border with India, though a handful of Pakistani and Indian citizens have been allowed to repatriate through the crossing on an emergency basis. Bus and train services between India and Pakistan remain suspended. Any incoming travelers allowed in the country, including Pakistani nationals, are advised to self-isolate for two weeks or are mandated to undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or in a medical facility based on medical screening outcomes.

Nationwide domestic control measures, including a ban on all social and public gatherings, as well as the closure of public spaces like educational institutions, tourist attractions, religious sites, dine-in restaurants, public squares, and entertainment venues, remain in place. Officials have also advised nonessential public and private entities to utilize telecommuting facilities to the extent possible. Local administration and security forces, including the army, are facilitating preventive restrictions nationwide; this mainly includes the mandatory closure of all nonessential businesses and services. Emergency and utility services will continue to operate. Banks and firms selling essential goods such as fuel, food, and medical supplies remain open, though operating hours have been restricted in most areas.

Officials have suspended all passenger train services indefinitely. Bus services remain closed. Major highways are only open for government vehicles and trucks carrying essential goods, such as food and fuel.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Confirm travel arrangements. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all business appointments, deliveries, and travel arrangements. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Ensure access to essential items.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int