SAPM: (There is no confirmed case of Novel Corona Virus in Pakistan: Dr Zafar)

Islamabad

ISLAMABAD:Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health on Sunday said that there is no confirmed case of Novel Corona Virus in Pakistan and the reports about such cases in Multan are inaccurate.

In an official statement, he said as per standard guidelines and procedure any traveler from China having flu-like symptoms has to be isolated and monitored.

He said the patients being referred to by some have no serious symptoms and are responding to treatment and improving. He assured the people that the government is closely monitoring the situation and all necessary measures are being taken to screen all travelers from China and provide hospital-care where required.

The SAPM said that Thermo Scanners and Thermo Guns have been provided to well-trained health staff at airports in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to screen all passengers.

Separately, he said a special dedicated team is assigned for screening passengers arriving via flights from China. Since Friday, however, China has closed its outbound direct flights to Pakistan due to Chinese spring festival, he added.

Dr Zafar Mirza said that according to the current schedule South China Airline flights will resume from January 29 and China Airlines flights will resume from February 3.

He said utmost vigilance is being maintained and an Emergency Operation Cell in Federal Health Ministry is monitoring the situation round the clock. Instructions have been given to all major hospitals to make arrangements to receive possible cases and provide them necessary care.

He said we have established contact with all Provincial Chief Ministers, Provincial Health Departments; relevant ministries including interior dealing with immigration, Aviation Division, NDMA to ensure there is seamless coordination and that our efforts are synergized, timely and effective.

Considering that there will be heavy influx of travelers from China after February 8, 2020 when the celebrations of Chinese New Year conclude, Dr Zafar Mirza said all relevant authorities have been asked to carry out robust surveillance for screening at the points of entry at Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi airports alongside seaports and land crossings, raising public awareness and ensuring hospital preparedness for management of potential cases.

He said he is personally monitoring the situation and is meeting every 48 hours with heads of hospitals, health institutions and all relevant departments to review the situation and take necessary measures for optimal level of preparedness and mitigation in the event of having a suspected case. He said, we are establishing a help line to be functional from Wednesday for information on the disease and to respond to queries.

He said there is absolutely no cause for panic or alarm and people need to take simple precautions for prevention against common flu like covering the nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing, frequent hand washing for 20 seconds with soap, avoiding close contact with sick people, avoid contact with animals, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Dr Zafar Mirza further said that those who have or a person near them have traveled to or from China, within the last 14 days and developed suggestive symptoms including unexplained fever, cough or breathing difficulty, should seek medical attention.

According to the statement, 2019 Novel Coronavirus as it is referred to is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hebei Province of China. The facility to confirm the new virus through a laboratory test is only available in a few countries of the world.

However, the National Institute of Health in Islamabad is fully equipped to isolate corona viruses closely related to the Novel Coronavirus and thus the virus can be confirmed by excluding other types of Coronaviruses.

The SAPM said that we are in touch with Chinese authorities and kits to test for Novel Coronavirus will be received in a few days shared the SAPM.

According to the statement, Novel corona virus (2019-nCoV) with animal origin identified as the cause of this outbreak has to date caused at least 2000 cases and 56 deaths in China. Other countries including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and

United States, France and Australia have also reported few confirmed cases with travel history to China.

There is no vaccination or specific antiviral treatment for this respiratory illness. Currently, there is no recommendation for restricting international travel or trade.

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