Pakistan suspends domestic flights to contain virus spread

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ISLAMABAD: The government has suspended all domestic flight operations until April 2 in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus after the country reported over 1,000 cases.

According to a statement shared by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Wednesday, the government has “decided to suspend all types of domestic scheduled/non-scheduled, chartered and private aircraft passenger flight operations with effect from Thursday, March 26, at 6:00 am up to April 02, 2020.”

Last week, the government suspended international flights till April 4 but announced that there would be no such restriction on diplomats and cargo planes.

“Flight operations will remain suspended till 4th April at 8pm, as 200,000 passengers are expected to travel to Pakistan. However, some planes of PIA, which are in Europe, will be allowed to arrive in Pakistan on Sunday,” it had announced.

Pakistan’s virus tally currently stands at 1078 with 8 reported deaths. Some 20 patients have recovered so far.

The government has pledged to increase testing capability and other facilities in hospitals as new medical supplies are expected to start pouring in from China by Friday, according to NDMA chief Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a multi-billion-rupee stimulus package to combat the deadly coronavirus and to facilitate poor people in the prevailing circumstances.

The government also suspended all passenger train operations through the country till Mar 31 and deployed army to assist the civil administration to enforce a nationwide lockdown to contain the virus outbreak.

Imran said 200 billion rupees have been allocated for the labor class to mitigate their sufferings, while the government is also reaching provinces and the business community to extend their assistance.

He said the government was highly conscious of its responsibilities and it was due to various policies and steps that the coronavirus was still contained.



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