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Coronavirus cases in Pakistan touch 1,000, no lockdown so far

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Pakistan has announced halting of domestic flight operations after the number of cases infected with coronavirus rose to 1,000 in the country. The Pakistani government said seven people have died of the disease.

The domestic flight ban will begin on Thursday, civil aviation spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar said on Wednesday. Islamabad had previously cut train service and international flights.

Initially, most of those infected were Pakistani pilgrims returning from neighboring Iran, which has seen the Middle East’s worst outbreak of the virus. Now, the virus is being reported in people with no travel history, officials said.

More than 400 of the infected people are in the southern province of Sindh. The eastern province of Punjab has the second-highest number of cases (296), the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 78 cases, Balochistan has 110, while capital Islamabad has 15, as per media reports.

The Sindh provincial government has imposed a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, but Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he will not impose a country-wide lockdown and urged people to go in self-quarantine to fight the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

Khan said that the impact of a countrywide curfew on Pakistan’s economy would be immense.

“Twenty-five percent of the population of our country lives under the poverty line. Putting the country under lockdown would mean that my daily-wage workers, street vendors, small shop-owners would be locked inside their homes. How would they earn then?” he said in his address to the nation.

The country had reported its seventh death on Tuesday, involving a 57-year-old patient who was undergoing treatment at Mayo Hospital in Lahore.

Six civil servants were, meanwhile, suspended on Tuesday after they posed for a selfie with a coronavirus patient in a quarantine centre, an official said.

The selfie, widely shared on social media, pictured a group of men around the apparent patient, several of them smiling broadly and none wearing face masks.