On January 27, 2020 Pakistan initiated preventive measures and protocols to contain the spread of the virus in the country. The Pakistan-China border crossing at Khunjerab Pass and all the five entry points with Iran i.e., Taftan, Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur and Washuk were closely monitored with strict screenings. On February 26, Pakistan reported its first two confirmed cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Despite earnest efforts, the virus did spread across the country. Pakistan reported its first two cases on February 26, and as of today, April 9th, there are a total of 4,322 confirmed cases with 63 reported deaths. In Pakistan, coronavirus was primarily transmitted from pilgrims who had recently travelled back from Iran. As per WHO findings, only 29% of the total cases in Pakistan are locally transmitted; 55% have a history of recent travel to Iran and the remaining 16% had returned from other countries. The first stop of travelers from Iran is Taftan border in Chaghi district which is an IRC Pakistan project area, requiring IRC response.
Pakistan is at a unique risk, with vulnerability further exacerbated by factors such as demographics, illiteracy, poverty and more than 10% of Pakistan’s population is above the age of 501 , which is a high-risk bracket due to increased vulnerability and likelihood of preexisting medical conditions. Nearly 39% of the population lives in multidimensional poverty, and there exist only 0.6 hospital beds per 1000 people2 . These factors greatly compound the risks. As one of the few countries in the world that is still struggling to eradicate polio, Pakistan especially cannot afford to have Coronavirus spread and take hold here as well.
The Government has also issued a notification waiving the condition for obtaining a mandatory No Objection Certificate (NOC) prior to commencing projects for all organizations working on COVID-19 response and registered with the Economic Affairs Division registration. This exemption will last for the next six months.