Tuesday, March 03, 2020
Web Desk

Coronavirus: Pakistan confirms fifth case after Gilgit-Baltistan woman tests positive

Patient is stable and is being managed well, says SAPM Dr Zafar Mirza; NIH says coronavirus patient had returned recently from Iran

Web Desk
Photo: AFP

Pakistan on Tuesday confirmed its fifth case of coronavirus amid strict safety measures to contain the spread in the country.

“We have now fifth confirmed case of COVID19 in federal areas. Patient is stable and is being managed well,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza said.

Mirza further requested the media to respect the privacy of the patient and the family.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) the patient is a 45-year-old woman from the northern mountainous region of Gilgit Baltistan, who arrived from Iran a few days ago.

An official of the health department said the woman was being treated at a hospital and her family members were being tested for the virus.

Read also: Two more cases of coronavirus emerge in Pakistan

Two cases of novel coronavirus have been reported from Karachi, two from federal areas and one from Islamabad.

All of the patients had traveled to Iran where at least 66 people have died from the virus including senior government functionaries with over 1,500, confirmed cases.

The pandemic has triggered panic around the world after it killed 3,100 people around the world (mostly in China) and affected more than 80,000 around the world. Iran has emerged as a major hotspot, with 1,500 reported cases and 66 deaths, according to an AFP tally. 

Sindh govt releases Rs100 million funds

The Sindh government on Tuesday released Rs100 million for the coronavirus emergency fund to combat the virus.

According to the spokesperson of the Sindh chief minister the provincial government has set up nine isolation wards consisting of 118 beds. The spokesperson added the government has also given the go-ahead to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indus Hospital.

The spokesperson further said the government had requested for 5,000 testing kits which will be used test those who had recently travelled to Iran and China, those who travelled with the ones infected or those showing symptoms of the virus.

He added that 2,301 people had been identified who had recently travelled to Iran, while 900 Pakistanis were still in Iran.

Sindh closes schools for two weeks

On Monday, Sindh extended the closure of all educational institutions following the confirmation of a second coronavirus case in Karachi, the country’s largest city.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the decision was taken so that the isolation period of probable patients could be completed. An estimated 738 pilgrims have so far returned from Iran in Sindh during the last one-and-a-half month, the chief minister added.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah chairing a meeting of coronavirus taskforce. Photo: PPI

Thermal scanners upgraded at airports

Separately, Mirza said new and upgraded thermal scanners have been installed at major airports around the country.

“New and upgraded thermo scanners are now installed in major airports around Pakistan. This will further improve the efficiency of our port of entries and first line of defense against coronavirus,” Zafar tweeted. 

Borders with Iran, Afghanistan sealed

Pakistan has closed its borders with Iran and Afghanistan and stopped all movements including trade activities. 

Special arrangements have been made at the Taftan border to screen the pilgrims coming from Iran. Isolation wards have been established and scanners are installed to screen the travelers.

Balochistan government has already declared emergency in the border districts. Pilgrims coming from Iran are first quarantined in the centers before being allowed to enter in the country.

On Monday, Chaman border with Afghanistan was also closed for a week till March 9 and all movements across Bab-e-Dosti was halted.

According to a notification issued, “The Pak-Afghan border of Chaman would remain closed from March 2 due to the coronavirus outbreak on both sides of the border in the best interest of the people of brotherly countries.”

The notification further said that during the period, necessary measures will be taken to safeguard the health of the people of both countries.

WHO satisfied with Pakistan's response

World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed confidence in the way the Pakistani government has handled the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“I am impressed by the swift and diligent way, the government has handled the crisis so far,” WHO’s Pakistan representative Dr Palitha Mahipala said on Sunday.

He added the health organisation was committed to supporting the country every step of the way.

Mahipala added that the COVID-19 outbreak was a public health emergency of international concern and all countries neighbouring Pakistan like Iran, Afghanistan, China and India had registered at least one confirmed case of the virus.

It is critically important that countries and international organisations worked for hand in hand to minimize the spread of the virus, he said.

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