National tally of patients climbs to 18, with majority having recently returned from travels abroad
A spokesperson for the Sindh Health Department on Tuesday announced that two more cases of the novel coronavirus had been diagnosed in the province, with both having recently traveled abroad before returning to Pakistan.
In a posting on Twitter, the spokesperson said the first new case was from Hyderabad, and the patient had arrived from Syria via Doha. “The second case is from Karachi and the patient arrived from Iran via Dubai,” they added.
Per the spokesperson, the total number of cases in Sindh has now reached 15. The latest cases bring to 18 the total nationwide tally, with three having been reported from the federal areas.
On Monday night, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza had confirmed that nine new cases of COVID-19 had been diagnosed in Karachi.
“The confirmed cases in Karachi last evening are in stable clinical condition, almost all of them are asymptomatic. They all had travel history and were picked up during contact tracing of an existing COVID-19 patient,” he posted on Twitter earlier today. This was partially rebuffed by the Sindh Health Department, which said none of the nine people who had been diagnosed on Monday night had any contacts with an already confirmed case. However, all nine had recently traveled.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed all government and private hospitals to share details of patients with symptoms matching that of COVID-19 so medical testing can be done to ensure they have not contracted the disease.
The latest jump in cases comes as Sindh’s educational institutions remain shut—to be reopened on March 15—in a bid to prevent the contagious disease from spreading among the public. The Sindh Health Department on Tuesday announced it was recommending the government extend the schools closure and also cancel large public gatherings such as matches of the Pakistan Super League.
However, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said no matches would be cancelled and would all be played as scheduled.
The novel coronavirus emerged at an animal market in China’s Wuhan city last year, and has since spread to over 100 countries globally. The mysterious disease has killed over 3,500 people in the past three months and infected more than 100,000 all over the world. In addition to China, new outbreaks have emerged in Italy, the United States and Iran, raising fears that the virus could soon tax healthcare services globally.