Major General Babar Iftikhar
Islamabad, March 29, 2020: Since an alarming situation has arisen in Pakistan after the coronavirus cases surpassed 15,00 mark on Saturday, the army establishment has decided to seal the country's borders with India, Iran, and Afghanistan for at least two weeks and more, if required.
By breaking up the total figure provided by Islamabad, it has been stated that at least 12 patients have succumbed to the viral infection while 25 others have recovered so far. As many as 557 people are infected in Punjab, 469 in Sindh, 138 in Balochistan, 188 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 107 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 39 in Islamabad and two in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Major General Babar Iftikhar, while addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi, said that the borders had been closed as "a preventive measure but the actual border is between the man and the coronavirus, which we have yet to take control of."
Despite ensuring such stringent measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in the country, Pakistan, in view of its all-weather ties with China, has not closed the border between the two countries. Being the birthplace of the killer bug and reporting over 3,500 deaths maintaining friendly ties with China always has been Pakistan's priority.
A team of Chinese doctors specialising in coronavirus also arrived in Pakistan on Saturday. According to the country's Foreign Office, the doctors will remain in Pakistan for two weeks and will advise the health care specialists in the country.
Army helicopters flew special sorties through Khunjrab pass for transporting and distribution of medical equipment received from China including five ventilators, 2000 testing kits, 2000 medical suits, 2000 N-95 masks, and 0.2 million face masks on Friday.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Javed Qamar Bajwa has directed that all available soldiers and the Army's medical resources be deployed to tackle the coronavirus.
"The Government of Pakistan has summoned the Pakistan Army under Article 245 in aid of civil power," the spokesperson added.
According to the notification issued by the federal and provincial governments, only hospitals, shops selling food items, medical stores, and food and medicine manufacturing industries would remain open, while schools shall remain closed.
The petrol pumps and markets would remain open only according to the timings issued by the respective provincial governments.
The spokesperson also mentioned that General Bajwa had decided to donate one month's salary to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, while personnel between the ranks of brigadier to lieutenant general would donate three days' worth of their salaries. The personnel below the colonel rank and soldiers would donate two and one days' salaries, respectively, he added.
"Cooperation is the best defence at this time than isolation to fight coronavirus," Iftikhar stressed.
The troops have been deployed in every province and region of Pakistan, from PoK to Sindh and Balochistan, as well as Punjab to the federally administered regions in the north.
Contact tracking, tracing to identify and isolate suspected individuals are being done to ensure the containment of COVID-19 spread. Army troops are assisting in the management of quarantine facilities. A total of 182 quarantine facilities have been established across the country, including Taftan and Chaman, the spokesperson noted.