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Dr Mirza confirms two coronavirus cases in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: While confirming emergence of two Coronavirus patients, one in Sindh and other in Federal area, Health Minister Dr. Mirza reiterated that Pakistan has taken all pre-cautionary measures to stop outbreak of the epidemic.
Addressing a press conference at late Wednesday night Dr. Mirza and Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal informed that special arrangements have been made on Taftan border to test and diagnose Coronavirus in large number of pilgrims.
Dr. Mirza informed that as many as tests of 100 people were conducted so far whose reports are negative but still we have to wait for only one patient’s result.
Dr. Mirza was of the view that medical ethics imposed bar on disclosure of name of a patient, however, he informed that both the patients whose tests were positive have travelled from Iran to Pakistan.
“It is time to show sense of responsibility so I request the media persons to avoid revealing identity of Coronavirus patients”, Dr. Mirza said.
“What should be our reaction – we should not create any panic – we have to take precautionary measures and to show sense of responsibility – If you know any person who has travelled from virus affected country then please contact to Helpline 1166”, says Dr. Mirza.
Substantiating his claim that government will manage the situation and nothing would be wrong Dr. Mirza expressed that Coronavirus has out broke in China, Iran and India but due to precautionary measures in the country Pakistan is the last country in the region where Coronavirus has been detected.
“PM has directed us to inform and update media daily over prevailing situation of the virus as we believe in transparency”, adding that Dr. Mirza requested the media to not disseminate sensational news in the prevailing situation and to play role in raising awareness over the issue.
“Federal and Provincial governments are on the same page to take measures in tackling situation in alert manner”, Dr. Mirza claimed.
Dr. Mirza said that federal and provincial governments are on one page as both have developed unified SOPs to remain safe from this epidemic adding to make sure to low penetration from border areas every department of the government is taking measures.
Chief Minister Balochistan informed, specifically we have focused on Taftan border from where pilgrims traffic is at high in addition to equipping Dalbadin hospital to respond the situation.
Earlier, the Sindh health department announced that a young man had tested positive for the coronavirus in Karachi.
The 22-year-old male patient travelled to Iran where he acquired COVID-19, Media Coordinator to the Health and Population Welfare Minister Meeran Yousuf said in a statement, days after Pakistan closed its land border with Iran, where 19 people have died from the virus.
The patient travelled from Iran to Karachi by plane on February 20. He and his family have been placed in quarantine and the Health Department is in the process of examining all the passengers that he travelled with, the statement added.
Yousuf said the man had started showing symptoms while he was in Iran. His tests were carried out today at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) which turned out to be positive, she said.
Yousuf said the Sindh government has informed the federal government, World Health Organisation and other partners about the confirmation of the virus in the patient. “The passengers who travelled with him were exposed as well; we will track down all the passengers and carry out their tests,” she added.
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.
Sindh government spokesperson Senator Murtaza Wahab confirmed the case and said: “All safety measures have been taken and we will emergency steps after this case. Most arrangements are being made by the centre but the Sindh government will play its part as well.”
Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said the provincial government was “working to procure the data of the infected” under Chief MinIster Murad Ali Shah’s orders.
Shah, the information minister, added that isolation wards were being set up in different hospitals around the province.
“We are taking the data of all the people who were travelling with the infected person on his flight,” he added. “There are three isolation wards in Sindh, one in Civil Hospital [Dr Ruth K. M. Pfau Civil Hospital], one in Jinnah [Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC)], and one in AKUH [Aga Khan University Hospital].
Late last week, Pakistan closed off its border with Iran, where 19 people have died of coronavirus so far, while another 139 people – including the country’s deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi – were infected. Tehran’s death toll is the highest than any country other than China.
The government of Balochistan had also stopped pilgrims from travelling to Iran via Taftan border.
The virus has originated in China, where it has killed more than 2,700 people so far.
Around the world, over 80,000 people have been infected with coronavirus, as per the World Health Organization (WHO), with most of the cases in China – above 78,000.
The World Health Organisation said there are now more new cases of the coronavirus reported each day outside China than inside the hardest-hit country.
The UN health agency had put the number of new cases in China at 411 on Tuesday and those registered outside the country stood at 427. – TLTP