Pakistan prepares to fight back as two coronavirus cases emerge in country

A Pakistani journalist wearing a protective facemask uses his mobile phone outside the Aga Khan University Hospital where a patient of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus has been admitted in Karachi on February 26, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Pakistan prepares to fight back as two coronavirus cases emerge in country

  • Both infected patients recently returned from Iran where they contracted the illness
  • Authorities have identified 1,500 people who returned from Iran in the last two week, says Sindh chief minister

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.


Lowest spike in weeks: Pakistan records 1,979 new coronavirus cases in a day

Updated 2 min 19 sec ago

Lowest spike in weeks: Pakistan records 1,979 new coronavirus cases in a day

  • As of Tuesday, Pakistan has recorded 253,604 total infections and 5,197 deaths
  • Pakistan has also seen an uptick in recoveries, with 170,656 cases recorded thus far

Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday recorded 1,979 new cases of the coronavirus, following 21,020 countrywide tests in the last 24 hours, marking the lowest number of new infections in weeks.
According to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 portal, as of Tuesday, the national caseload stood at 253,604 while 5,197 people had died from the disease.
Pakistan has also seen an uptick in recoveries, with 170,656 cases recorded thus far.
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the highest forum that looks after coronavirus mitigation efforts, said on Monday it would follow the same safety rules for the upcoming Eidul Azha prayers as had been devised for Eid ul Fitr prayers in May. 
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said proper management of cattle markets was important to prevent the spread of coronavirus during Eid ul Azha and the days leading up to it
These cattle markets will be set up outside cities, he said, and the local administration had been asked to ensure compliance with all guidelines, including that cattle markets run from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, all people entering them wear masks and be screened, maintain social distancing and avoid overcrowding.