Islamabad: Pakistan confirmed its first two cases of the novel coronavirus as the deadly infection reached the country despite all-out efforts to keep it away.
“We have two confirmed cases of the coronavirus and both patients are under treatment as per clinical standard protocols and they are stable at the moment,” Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, told reporters in Quetta late on Wednesday night.
He said there was “no need to panic” as the “things are under control”. “One case has been reported from Sindh while the second one was confirmed in the Federal areas,” he said, adding that both patients had returned from Iran recently.
Television channels reported that one of the patients was 22-year-old Syed Raza from Karachi. He was admitted to Agha Khan Hospital with his immediate family members.
Mirza said 15 suspected cases of the virus are currently under investigation while 100 have tested negative for the virus.
Mirza urged the public to go to hospitals if they start experiencing any of the symptoms and contact the government helpline 1166.
He said due to the measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of the virus, Pakistan is the last country in the region where COVID-19 has been reported.
“We are on the right track. With Allah’s blessings, this (virus) will not take the form of an outbreak in Pakistan,” he said, adding that measures are in place to prevent an outbreak.
Pakistan has closed its border with Iran where at least 19 people have died from the virus.
A spokesperson for the Sindh Health Department said the Karachi victim had come from Iran on 20 February.
He and his family have been placed in quarantine and the Health Department is in the process of examining all the passengers that he travelled with, the spokesman said.
Speaking to Dawn News TV, the spokesperson said the man had started showing symptoms while he was in Iran.
His tests were carried out on Wednesday at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), he said, adding that they have informed the federal government, the World Health Organisation and other partners about it.
“The passengers who travelled with him were exposed as well. We will track down all passengers and carry out tests,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Baluchistan government in a precautionary measure announced the closure of all educational institutions in the province until 15 March.
Baluchistan Minister for Secondary and Higher Education Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind said all schools and madrassas in the province will remain closed till 15 March.
The Sindh government announced that educational institutions in the province will remain shut on Thursday and Friday.
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