There have, as yet, been no confirmed reports of the coronavirus from any part of Pakistan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza said on Sunday.
In a statement issued to media, Mirza said the federal health ministry was monitoring the situation, adding an emergency operations cell had been established to receive and verify any potential cases of the deadly disease.
According to the Special Assistant, thermal scanners and guns have been provided to staff at airports in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to screen all plane passengers arriving from China. He said instructions have also been issued to all major hospitals to prepare for any potential cases to ensure speedy treatment for anyone infected with the coronavirus.
A spokesman of the National Disaster Management Authority also said that the government was importing three more thermal scanners, one each for airports in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, for early identification of any travelers infected with the coronavirus.
Separately on Sunday, Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan told a press conference in Lahore that arrangements had been made at all airports across Pakistan to diagnose and screen passengers infected with the coronavirus. He said the situation was under control, and backed Mirza’s claims that no cases of coronavirus had been found in Pakistan as yet.
Meanwhile, in a press release also issued on Sunday, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that all Pakistanis—numbering over 500—currently in China’s Wuhan province, where the virus originated, were safe. No Pakistani in China has thus far been infected with the coronavirus, she added.
In her press release, Farooqui assured Pakistanis in China of Islamabad’s full support and guidance, and urged them to follow the health protocols issued by Chinese authorities. The Foreign Ministry and the Pakistan Embassy in China are both actively monitoring the situation in Wuhan, the release added.
China on Monday announced it was extending the Lunar New Year holiday by three days and enforcing strict containment measures to curb the spread of the new strain of coronavirus, which has killed at least 80 people and infected over 2,700 more, most of them in the central province of Hubei.
The holiday season was due to end on Friday but would now be extended until Feb. 2, Beijing announced.
Over 56 million people in almost 20 cities, including Hubei capital’s Wuhan, have been affected by travel restrictions imposed amid fears the transmission rate of the virus would skyrocket as hundreds of millions of Chinese traveled during the Lunar New Year celebrations.