TAXILA: The Punjab Department of Archaeology and Museums has closed down the Taxila Museum as well as dozens of ancient Buddhist sites to restrict the movement of local and foreign tourists and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Museum curator Abdul Nasir Khan confirmed on Tuesday that the museum and dozens of other centuries-old Buddhist sites, including Sirkap and the Dharmarajika stupa, have been closed until April 5 following directions issued by the provincial government in connection with preventive measures for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Mr Khan said the museum will reopen on April 6, and apologised for any inconvenience to local and foreign tourists because of its closure, expressing the hope that it will be opened to the public soon.

The Punjab government has banned gatherings anywhere in the province by imposing section 144 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Wah Cantonment administration has also closed play areas and parks, including Jinnah Park and Sher Shah Park. The archaeology department has closed the Mughal Garden in Wah until April 5 as well.

The Gandhara Festival, an international event planned by theKhyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the KP Department of Archaeology in the first week of April has also been cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

KP Archaeology and Museums Director Dr Abdul Samad confirmed its cancellation as part of coronavirus prevention efforts.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2020