Pakistan, Iran resolve to mutually tackle spread of coronavirus

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad and Tehran have agreed to work together to limit the coronavirus outbreak after nearly 3,000 people, including senior government functionaries, were confirmed to have contracted the virus in Iran.

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The agreement over a joint response was reached during a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Iranian counterpart, Jawad Zarif, today, Radio Pakistan reported.

Qureshi told Zarif that Pakistan extends its full support to Iran in coping with the virus.

“Pakistan regrets the loss of precious lives in Iran due to the epidemic,” he conveyed to his counterpart.

More than 90 people have died in Iran from the epidemic.

Pakistan on Tuesday confirmed its fifth case of the coronavirus. All of the patients had previously traveled to Iran.

According to BBC, cases linked to Iran have also been reported by Afghanistan, Canada, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Over 3,000 quarantined at Iran border

The number of people quarantined at Pakistan House in Taftan has overwhelmed the space’s capacity and authorities are now shifting travelers to another place.

Quoting Customs officials, the TV channel reported that more than 3,000 people are currently kept at two quarantine centers in Taftan.

Pakistan House at Taftan is filled to capacity, with over 2,500 people being kept there after screening at the border crossing.

Meanwhile, authorities have stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Screening machines have been installed and quarantine centers established at border outposts where pilgrims coming from Iran are kept before being allowed to enter in the country.

Border with Afghanistan sealed

Pakistan on Monday closed the Chaman border crossing to Afghanistan for a week and halted all movement across the Bab-e-Dosti crossing.

According to a notification issued, “The Pak-Afghan border at Chaman will remain closed from March 2 due to the coronavirus outbreak on both sides of the border in the best interest of the people of the brotherly countries.”

The notification further said that during the period of closure, necessary measures will be taken to safeguard the health of the people of both countries.

Govt denies under-reporting coronavirus cases

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza on Wednesday said that reports of the government hiding the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan because of the Pakistan Super League 2020 were false.

“Reports that the government is hiding the total number of confirmed cases of the virus in Pakistan because of [the ongoing] Pakistan Super Legaue are 100% false,” Mirza told reporters.

“Every little case of the common cough or flu should not be mistaken for the coronavirus,” he noted.

“If people get alarmed and concerned at every little illness, there will soon be a panic in the country,” he warned.

“Pakistan has thankfully managed to contain the pandemic to some extent because of the preventive measures put in place by the government. This is why we managed to contain the spread compared to other world nations,” he claimed.

“More than 200 people have been tested for the virus across Pakistan. Five were tested positive and their condition is improving by the day,” he added.

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