KARACHI: Two coronavirus infections have been reported in Pakistan, both in persons who recently arrived from Iran, with one of them confirmed to be a resident of Karachi in Sindh province.
Addressing a news conference on Thursday, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah revealed that about 1,500 people who returned from Iran in the past two weeks have been identified by the authorities.
“The group of 28 that traveled with the affected patients has also been identified and will be quarantined,” Shah said.
He added that the provincial administration was hoping to be in control of the situation in the next 48 hours.
“Screening at airports is not satisfactory. I would request the federal government to do proper screening and make the process more effective,” the chief minister said.
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani announced on Wednesday night that schools in the province would remain closed on Thursday and Friday.
In Balochistan, which borders Iran, all education institutes have been temporarily closed until March 15 “as a precaution to protect children from coronavirus,” the province’s education directorate announced in a circular on Wednesday.
On Wednesday night, Minister of State for Health Zafar Mirza said that a case had been “reported in Sindh, whereas the second person tested positive in federal areas.”
The persons traveled to Iran in the past 14 days, Mirza said, adding that both were in stable condition.
The person in Sindh has been identified as a 22-year-old resident of Karachi and is already in quarantine.
The man “and other members of his family have been quarantined at a private hospital,” Meeran Yousuf, a spokesperson of the Sindh Health Department, told Arab News, adding that the patient arrived in Karachi on a flight from Mashhad on Feb. 20.
Meanwhile, isolation wards have been established at Karachi hospitals, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah told reporters.
Iran has the highest coronavirus toll outside of China, as the outbreak is spreading rapidly across the country.
Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Wednesday that 19 people had died from the illness, with 139 confirmed cases in the country. The World Health Organization says the virus has infected more than 80,000 people around the world, causing over 2,700 deaths, mainly in China.
Experts are concerned that Iran may be under-reporting cases and deaths.