urges calm as coronavirus cases surge, Sri Lanka stops
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[March 18, 2020]
By Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam and Waruna Karunatilake
ISLAMABAD/COLOMBO (Reuters) - Pakistan's
prime minister has urged calm after its tally of coronavirus cases rose
to 245 while Sri Lanka sealed itself off and shut its stock market on
Wednesday, fuelling fears that South Asian countries are struggling to
stem the pandemic.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Indian
subcontinent rose overnight to 482 as authorities across the region
imposed travel restrictions to block the fast-spreading disease that
has infected nearly 200,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 8,000
[For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread: open
https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser]
There are fears that inadequate health facilities will be
overwhelmed in many parts of the poor, crowded region.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a late Tuesday address to
the nation, urged citizens to remain calm and not rush to get
"Even the U.S. doesn't have the resources to test everyone who
comes," he said. "Only those with intense symptoms should go to
"There is no need to worry. We will fight this as a nation. And
God-willing, we will win this war," Khan said.
His comments came amid a growing dispute in Pakistan between federal
and provincial authorities with the latter struggling to secure
sufficient coronavirus testing kits and blaming the federal
government for failing to properly test and quarantine hundreds of
Pakistanis who recently returned home across a land border with
Late on Tuesday, Pakistan said it would require all arriving air
passengers to show they had tested negative for the disease. Land
borders have already been shut.
[to top of second column]
Pakistan's central bank cut its key interest rate by 75 bps to 12.50% on
Tuesday, the first cut in four years, as the coronavirus roiled markets across
Sri Lanka, which has recorded 43 coronavirus cases, said it would ban all
incoming flights for two weeks from Wednesday to combat the spread of the virus.
Officials also implemented price controls on lentils and sardines to ensure that
no price gouging.
Sri Lanka also said its stock market would remain shut for the rest of the week
as it attempts to minimise interactions and curb the disease.
In India, where 147 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, authorities on
Tuesday cancelled nearly two dozen long distance train services in a bid to curb
the disease and also because of a fall in passenger numbers.
(This story has been refiled to correct garbled paragraphs)
(Additional reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Writing by Euan Rocha; Editing by
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