Pakistani authorities have banned the export of all anti-malarial medicines to ensure adequate domestic stock of the drugs for possible use in treating COVID-19 patients.
“The Ministry of Commerce has imposed a ban on export of anti-malarial drugs with immediate effect,” said Sajid Shah, a spokesperson for Health Ministry on Saturday.
The ban includes hydroxychloroquine, the inexpensive malaria drug that U.S. President Donald Trump touted as a game-changer in the fight against the pandemic, though it is yet to be established as a cure for Covid-19.
The restrictions were imposed on Thursday but only announced Saturday.
They will remain in place until a decision by the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on COVID-19, a body which has representation of both civil and military leaders.
There are around 700 drug manufacturing units in the country and over 200 units were already producing anti-malarial drugs, Akhtar Abbas, spokesperson for Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) said.
Health Minister Zafar Mirza confirmed 4,788 cases and 77 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
He said 190 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours.
The government had earlier prohibited the export of the drugs but then lifted that ban.