Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health urges people not to panic, contact helpline in case of any troubling symptoms
The Government of Pakistan on Wednesday night confirmed the country’s first two cases of novel coronavirus, as the epidemic continues to sweep the globe after originating in China.
Addressing a press conference in Quetta on Thursday morning, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said that both confirmed cases had recently traveled to Iran. He urged people who had recently traveled to any country that has confirmed cases of the deadly disease to call a government helpline to ensure they could receive the necessary help.
“If you or somebody you know have recently returned from China, Iran or a country where #COVID-19 is prevalent and if there are symptoms like fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, please report by calling at 1166,” he said, adding the government had taken effective preventative measures to ensure the virus does not spread throughout the country and this was why Pakistan had been the last country in the region to be hit by the virus.
Mirza urged people not to panic, saying both the patients were in stable condition. “Remember, 97% cases of Coronavirus fully recover,” he added on Twitter.
The special assistant vowed that he would conduct daily briefings on the coronavirus to ensure everyone was aware of the latest developments. He also urged the media to play a positive role in ensuring accurate information was disseminated to the public about the virus.
On Wednesday, the Sindh Health Department announced a young man had tested positive for the coronavirus in Karachi. The 22-year-old had traveled from Iran to Karachi on Feb. 20—mere days before Pakistan sealed its border with the neighboring nation, where 20 people have already died from the virus. According to health authorities, the infected man and his family have been placed in quarantine and the Health Department is in the process of examining all the passengers that he traveled with.
Shortly thereafter Mirza confirmed one more case in Pakistan, this one in Islamabad, adding that both cases had recently traveled to Iran.
During his press conference, Mirza said 15 suspected cases of the virus were currently being investigated, while 100 people had tested negative so far.
As a precautionary measure, the Balochistan government—which shares a border with Iran—has announced the closure of all educational institutions in the province until March 15. The Sindh government has similarly announced that educational institutions in the province would be shut today (Feb. 27) and tomorrow (Feb. 28).
Following the confirmed infections, all airports in the country have also been placed on high alert, with extra staff posted for screening of passengers. “In the wake of coronavirus, all the airports have been placed on high alert and all the airport managers have been directed again to ensure 100 percent screening of passengers,” Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar posted on Twitter.
The novel coronavirus has killed over 2,700 people and infected more than 80,000 others in 34 countries—though the majority of the cases are still in China.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said there are now more new cases of the virus reported outside China than inside it.