ISLAMABAD: National Security Committee (NSC) has made important decisions under its strategy to fight coronavirus including closure of educational institutions, borders besides cancellation of mass gatherings and partial suspension of flight operations, ARY News reported on Friday.
A meeting of the country’s top civil-military body took place at the Prime Minister’s House under the chair of PM Imran Khan. The three services chiefs, the federal ministers for interior, foreign and law affairs as well as the education minister were in attendance in the meeting.
The top civil-military brass finalised national strategy to contain further spread of COVID-19.
National Coordination Committee
The federal government has constituted a high-level National Coordination Committee to carry on joint efforts to fight against coronavirus across the country.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said in a press conference that the newly-constituted ‘committee will be comprised of federal ministers and other prominent personalities, whereas, the representatives of Surgeon General of Army, DG ISI, ISPR, DG Military Operations.’
He also confirmed that 28 cases of coronavirus have emerged so far in Pakistan.
“Members of the committee have been given authority to include anyone in the committee. Ministry of Health will hold convenorship of the coordination committee and its meeting will be held on Saturday 4:00 pm.”
“It is necessary for us to take national-level decisions. NDMA [National Disaster Management Authority] will play its role as an operational agency and all further decisions will be made under the supervision of the institution.”
Closure of western border
Pakistan has sealed its western border with Afghanistan and Iran through a notification in an attempt to contain the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) following the decisions taken by NSC.
The Ministry of Interior wrote a letter to the relevant authorities “to convey the approval of the Competent Authority for complete sealing of the western border of Pakistan with Afghanistan and Iran as directed the National Security Committee in its meeting held on 13th March 2020.”
The border will remain sealed for an initial period of two weeks (14 days) with effect from March 16 to “prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the best interest of all three brotherly countries.”
The government has decided to keep all educational institutions closed across the country till April 5.
Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said: “In a meeting of the National Security Committee presided over PM Imran Khan, it has been decided to close all educational institutions in the country till April 5.”
“This includes all schools and universities, public and private, vocational institutions and madaris [seminaries].”
In a meeting of the National Security Committee presided over PM Imran Khan, it has been decided to close all educational institutions in the country till April 5. This includes all schools and universities, public and private, vocational institutions and madaris.
— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) March 13, 2020
Shafqat Mahmood said the situation regarding the closure of all educational institutions in the country would be reviewed by the Ministry of Education on the March 27 and further decisions will be taken.
Partial suspension of int’l flights
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in its statement to media, urged nationals to avoid unnecessarily to foreign destinations. He announced that international flights will only be operated through Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore airports.
He said that the virus has not spread widely in Pakistan and asked nationals to remain calm and adopt precautionary measures. An awareness campaign will be launched across the country, whereas, provinces will remain in close coordination with the Centre.
The foreign minister urged that there is a need to strictly observe movements in border areas and demanded a 15-day closure of all borders. He added that holding mass gathering will be avoided across the country. He asked citizens to avoid going to crowded places like wedding halls, cinemas and other public places.
Pakistan Day’s event cancelled
The committee has also decided to cancel the March 23’s event for the commemoration of Pakistan Day, sources told ARY News.
While talking to ARY News, the foreign minister said that the government has focused to hold strict observation of entrance points and decided to close all borders for the next 15 days. He added that the country will avoid holding mass gatherings and the religious procession in Raiwind was also shortened.