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Pakistan, Iran resume trade activities at Taftan border despite pandemic

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ISLAMABAD, May 14 (Net) -- The trade activities between Pakistan and Iran at the Taftan border crossing have resumed after remaining suspended for more than two months as Pakistan closed its border due to the outbreak of COVID-19, local media reported, quoting government officials, on Thursday.
The trade activities resumed between Pakistan and Iran on Wednesday after two trade crossing points, the Pakistan gate and zero-point trade gate, were reopened at the Taftan border, Zahoor Baloch, a government official in Taftan, told local media.
The trade activities between the two countries would continue thrice a week according to the standard operating procedures, the official said.
After the opening of the trade gates, some Iranian trailers loaded with food items and liquefied petroleum gas tankers arrived in Pakistan, according to the reports.
The decision regarding resumption of trade between the two countries was taken by the National Command and Operations Center of Pakistan in a recent meeting held in federal capital Islamabad, according to government officials.
Earlier in a telephone conversation last month, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani emphasized the necessity for the resumption of cross-border trade, reopening of the border markets, and strengthening the trade ties in conformity with the health regulations.
"The resumption of commodities exchange between the two countries will greatly help Pakistan's economy, which has encountered many problems due to the coronavirus," the prime minister said.

Japan lifts COVID-19 emergency for 39 of 47 prefectures ahead of planned deadline
TOKYO, May 14 (Net) -- The Japanese government on Thursday decided to lift a nationwide state of emergency for 39 of the country's 47 prefectures where the COVID-19 has been less prevalent, with the move coming ahead of the planned deadline of May 31.
"Japan will lift a state of emergency for 39 of the country's 47 prefectures ahead of its planned expiration at the end of the month, as the spread of the novel coronavirus in these areas has been kept in check," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced.
The areas remaining under the state of emergency comprise urban areas such as Tokyo and the wider Tokyo metropolitan area and Osaka prefecture, among others, that have been harder-hit by the pneumonia-carrying virus, with the government keen to see daily infections fall further and ease the strain on the nation's medical system.

Online learning platform keeps study going for Chinese students amid epidemic
BEIJING, May 14 (Net) -- China launched a national online education platform to facilitate the continued learning of its 180 million middle and primary school students who have been confined to their homes amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Jointly launched by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Feb. 17, the free learning platform covers the 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland.
Nearly 2.1 billion visits had been paid to the platform's website as of May 11, said Lyu Yugang with the MOE at a press conference Thursday.
The platform has been upgraded to further enrich its resources, which feature 10 sections including studying courses, epidemic prevention education, moral education, mental health education and classic literature.