The Gilgit-Baltistan government has decided to impose a complete lockdown from Monday midnight for an indefinite period as the number of coronavirus patients has reached 71 in the region.
“This will be called home lockdown and police and Rangers will be patrolling day and night,” Law Minister Aurangzeb Khan announced while addressing a press conference on Sunday.
The development comes as Sindh, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan had announced the complete and partial lockdown in their provinces as the nationwide COVID-19 tally has crossed 640 with four deaths.
The G-B government spokesperson Shams Mir, who was also present during the presser, said that police and Rangers will have the powers to arrest people violating orders. “Of total, 16 people are those who have contracted virus from pilgrims returning from Iran,” he added.
Under the lockdown which is similar to the one imposed by other provinces, the grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential services will remain open. However, intra-city
transport and non-essential shops will remain closed, the law minister said.
A day earlier, the G-B government imposed Section 144 to discourage the public gatherings in line with the social distancng measures which experts believe is the only effective way to prevent the spread of highly-contagious disease.
In addition, the government had decided to detain passengers who avoid taking the coronavirus test after returning to the country. It had already closed all educational institutions and has decided to suspend inter-district public transport from Monday.
A quarantine centre has also been established on the outskirts of G-B.