Pakistan on Saturday began a nine-day closure affecting tourist and tourist sites in an attempt to prevent an increase in COVID-19 cases during the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr.
Already battling a third wave of infections and increasingly nervous about the disease border crisis in India, the government has imposed stricter restrictions since the one-month shutdown in April last year.
“As of today, all companies across the country will be closed. People will not be allowed to enter the markets to buy Eid, ”Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder reported from the capital, Islamabad.
Hyder said the Pakistani government feared it would not be able to cope with a possible shortage of fans and oxygen if the “situation sees the clashes in India”.
Asad Umar, the planning minister responsible for Pakistan’s pandemic response, said Pakistan was facing a “dangerous situation”.
“These measures have been necessary because of the extremely dangerous situation that has been created in the region with the spread of virulent mutations in the virus,” Umar said on Twitter, adding that the country had to “unite.”
The need for caution is clear. The danger is greater than ever and it knocks on our doors. We need the country to unite in response and once again achieve what we achieved in the first wave, so we received global praise. Inshallah we will do it again, together
– Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) May 8, 2021
Eid, which comes at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, usually sees the mass movement of people across the country and tourist sites full of Pakistanis.
Last year the country experienced a rebound in cases in the weeks following the celebrations.
Companies, hotels and restaurants, as well as markets and parks will be closed, while public transport between provinces and within cities has been stopped.
The military has mobilized to control the restrictions.
Mosques, however, will remain open. Authorities fear the boundaries at places of worship could ignite confrontation in the deeply conservative Muslim republic.
Impoverished Pakistan has recorded more than 850,000 infections and 18,600 deaths, but with limited testing and a private healthcare sector, many fear the true spread of the disease will be much worse.
Pakistan has seen a daily death toll of more than 100 in recent weeks.
Health officials have warned that hospitals are running close to capacity and have rushed to increase the number of intensive care beds.
International flights have been reduced and border crossings with Iran and Afghanistan have been closed, except for trade.
Land flights and crossings with neighboring India, which erupted from a devastating outbreak with hundreds of thousands of new cases a day, were closed before the pandemic due to political tensions.
Since last year, Pakistan has reported nearly 18,800 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 854,000 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Doses of COVAX arrive
Pakistan, which has so far vaccinated only a fraction of its population, received its first batch of 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca on Saturday under the delayed COVAX vaccine delivery system for higher-income countries. low.
Prime Minister Faisal Sultan’s special health aide asked people over the age of 40 to register to receive shots and said the Pakistani government will soon be able to expand its vaccination program to other age groups.
In a statement issued by the Pakistan National Command Operations Center, it was said that 1,238,400 vaccine doses reached the first COVAX allocation, while a batch of 1,236,000 was expected to arrive in a few days.
Pakistan has administered just over 3.32 million doses across the country as of May 6, which has a population of more than 200 million.