A woman wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 walks along a street in Rawalpindi on Friday. AFP
Pakistan shut all its schools and land borders on Friday and decided to limit international flights and discourage large gatherings to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus, ministers said.
The measures were announced after a meeting of the national security council chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by civilian and military leaders.
"It has been decided that all borders will remain closed for 15 days," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the local ARY and Dunya TV networks. "International flights will operate only out of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports," he said.
Educational establishments would be closed for three weeks until April 5, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood tweeted.
"This includes all schools and universities, public and private, vocational institutions and madaris," he added.
Pakistan borders China and Iran, both of which have been hit hard by the virus. It has reported 21 cases of the coronavirus but no deaths.
Most of the victims had a history of travelling to Iran, though Pakistan reported its first locally contracted case on Friday.
A health official checks the temperature of a cricket fan outside the National Cricket Stadium in Karachi. AFP
Earlier during the day, the National Assembly cut its session short by a week and prorogued proceedings due to concerns raised by treasury and opposition members over coronavirus.
When the session had begun on March 9, the House Business Advisory Committee had decided that the assembly was to remain in session till March 20.
The National Assembly was discussing the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan, with opposition members blaming federal and provincial governments for not taking enough steps to contain the virus.
India has also closed a border with neighbouring Myanmar to counter the coronavirus outbreak, as countries across South Asia reported a rise in cases on Wednesday. No cases have so far been confirmed in Myanmar.
"I am appealing to the people to stay at home. We have to keep ourselves and our children safe," Murad Ali Shah was quoted as saying while presiding over the coronavirus task force meeting on Friday.
"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Wednesday.
As India's deadly second wave of COVID-19 continues unabated and its total number of cases now stand at 21.49 million, with infections spreading from overcrowded cities to remote rural villages that are home to nearly 70% of the 1.3 billion population.
Misneach, the dog of Irish president, pawed at his owner vying for attention during an interview, a TikTok video showed.
Hopes that India's rampaging second wave of COVID-19 is peaking were set back on Thursday as record daily infections and deaths were reported and as the virus spread from cities to villages that were poorly equipped to cope.
The Delhi government, in association with a non-profit organisation, has kitted out more than a dozen autorickshaws with hand sanitisers and face masks, while oxygen cylinders are provided on a need basis. The service, which began officially on Tuesday, is free.