Thursday Feb 27 2020
Web Desk

Pakistan latest victim of coronavirus

Web Desk

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KARACHI: Top officials sprung into action on Thursday with Punjab and Sindh adopting precautionary measures after two coronavirus cases were confirmed in the country.

On Wednesday, Dr Mirza gave the confirmation that two cases were diagnosed in the country minutes after the first case was reported in the southern port city.

"I can confirm first two cases of corona virus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable," Dr Mirza wrote on Twitter.

He also noted that there was "no need to panic [as] things are under control".

The second patient, identified in Islamabad, was shifted to a quarantine in the capital's Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).

Related: Saudi Arabia imposes ban on travelers from affected countries

Zafar Mirza reviews measures at Iran border

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on health Dr Zafar Mirza on Thursday visited the Pakistan-Iran border at Taftan to review the precautionary measures adopted after the coronavirus outbreak in Iran.

Dr Mirza stated that the federal and the provincial governments were taking adequate measures to handle the situation. He added that the provinces and the federation were confident to tackle the coronavirus.

“Strict screening is being done at all the airports and land routes,” assured Dr Mirza. He also advised the public to be cautious and responsible, adding that they should adopt all the measures suggested by the health ministry.

The special assistant also shared that isolation wards have been set up in hospitals for patients who will be diagnosed with coronavirus. He added that 97% of people diagnosed with the disease have successfully recovered.

Punjab on high alert

The Punjab government has declared a high threat alert across the province after the coronavirus cases were reported in Karachi and Islamabad.

Punjab’s secretary health shared that the provincial government has also allocated two hospitals in Lahore and Rawalpindi to deal with coronavirus cases.

The official said that doctors and hospital staff will be given special protective equipment.

CM Sindh forms task force

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, while chairing an emergency meeting, constituted a task force comprising chief secretary, health secretary, commissioner Karachi and other senior officials to deal with the situation.

The chief minister also instructed the health department to make all the necessary equipment available to hospitals to prevent an epidemic.

Moreover, the chief minister was told that isolation wards had been established at different Karachi hospitals to treat patients infected with coronavirus.

The meeting was called after two cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in the country, one in the metropolis on Wednesday night.

Isolation wards have been established at DOW University’s Ojha Campus, Civil Hospital, Lyari Hospital, Mirpur Khas Hospital, PIMS Nawabshah, LUMS Hyderabad, CMCH Larkana, health secretary told the briefing. He added that an emergency cell and task force has also been established.

An Emergency Control Room has also been established at Commissioner House Karachi to deal with any unanticipated situation.

Scanners installed at airports

Executive Director at the National Institute of Health (NIH), Major-General Aamir Ikram, Pakistan has installed five new state-of-the-art scanners at airports around the country to screen for possible cases of the coronavirus. 

"We are also trying to provide diagnostic services in Taftan. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is also preparing facilities for 200 possible cases of the virus," the director told the media on Thursday.

"Import tax on items related to the treatment of the virus is being abolished. Our teams are present in Taftan and are being trained how to tackle the spread of the disease," he added. 

Schools closed

All the educational institutes in Sindh and Balochistan have been ordered to remain close as a precautionary measure. 

"All government and private educational institutions will remain closed on Thursday & Friday (27th & 28th Feb)," Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani on Wednesday tweeted.

Balochistan Education Minister Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind announced to extend vacations till March 15.

Screening machines may not have worked

The young man and his family were immediately placed in quarantine at a private hospital on the National Stadium Road. The health department was, as of reporting time, obtaining details of the passengers he travelled with.

Further, the provincial health department was set to dispatch a team to inspect his residence as well as his neighbourhood.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard operating procedures (SOP) dictate that everyone who came into contact with the infected person should be checked for the virus.

Related: Tips to help you avoid coronavirus

The 22-year-old's condition reportedly started to deteriorate on February 18 and he underwent a hijama, or cupping therapy, at a local health centre in Iranian city of Mashhad. After that, he suffered from a headache.

He arrived in Karachi on February 20, indicating that there were chances that the thermal screening machines at the airports for those entering the country may not have worked after all. The machines are supposed to immediately detect higher-than-usual body temperature.