ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - Authorities on Tuesday confirmed the first coronavirus case in Balochistan as the total number of patients reached 19 across the country.

The latest patient, a 12-year-old boy, had recent travel history of Iran. Health officials said the child is the resident of Sindh’s Dadu district. He was tested positive at Fatima Jinnah Hospital in Quetta.

Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Information Syed Nasir Hussain Shah on Tuesday said that the Sindh government was taking effective and concrete steps to deal with the expected cases of cronovirus. Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that no match of the second phase of Pakistan Super League was being cancelled, and all matches would be played as scheduled.

After the confirmation of 11 new novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on Tuesday in country the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) decided to increase the number of diagnostic kits.

The ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has officially confirmed 11 new cases taking the toll of to 18. All new cases have been also confirmed from Sindh including 10 from Karachi and one from Hyderabad.

Meeting of the Emergency Core Group (ECG) reviewing the COVID-19 cases decided to import around 100 virus testing kits in the ongoing month. The virus detecting kits were earlier also received through World Health Organization (WHO).

Health authorities also decided to provide the virus testing facility to Gilgit Baltistan (GB).

The meeting headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on NHS Dr. Zafar Mirza and attended by relevant health authorities decided to strengthen the screening system on entry and exit points.

The statement issued by the ministry quoting SAPM Dr. Zafar Mirza said that the measures are being taken with the coordination of federal and provincial authorities. He added that a comprehensive policy has been devised for the screening of the patients coming across the border.

“Screening is being done after the quarantine period as well,” he said.

SAPM said that the data collected of the passengers is provided to provincial authorities and through which the governments monitors the passengers. Dr. Zafar Mirza said that international health regulations are being implemented and all departments are working against COVID-19 taking it as national responsibility.

He said government has issued clinical guidelines and provided the diagnostic facilities in eight big laboratories of the country. SAPM on health also said that government prepared a solid policy to control virus spread at Taftan border.

Meanwhile the WHO in its situation report on COVID-19 for Pakistan said that  all the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan are imported and no local transmission have been reported yet.

It said that 162 travelers crossed the Taftan border on 8th March and out of these, 137 have been quarantined. To date a total of 3,549 travelers from Iran have now been quarantined at the Taftan border.

It informed that a quarantine facility has been established at Darazinda Hospital, Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 24 health care providers of the said hospital have been oriented for COVID-19

 

It also said that virology laboratory (Bio Safety Level II), Gilgit has been upgraded with the provision of PCR machine, freezer, fridge, autoclave and safety cabinet. However, the PCR kits specific to corona virus are still unavailable. National Institute of Health will train the lab staff and supply Kits by mid-March 2020.

About the surveillance at point of entries the WHO situation report said that acreening and active case finding is being undertaken at 11 airports (Islamabad, Lahore, Sialkot, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Kech, Gowadar, Karachi, Gilgit and Skardu) for passengers and at Karachi seaports for incoming seamen.

It said screening at crossings points from Iran and Afghanistan are closed however entry to Pakistan is controlled and people allowed to enter are screened.

It added that a list of 1,167 pilgrims has been finalized by Rapid Response Teams, Quetta Out of these 583 have been screened while 584 ziareens were not traceable due to incorrect addresses. In addition to ziareens 219 travelers were also screened with the travel history to Iran

 

Report further said a quarantine facility has been established in Sukkur at a building with 512 flats and 31 health professionals have been deployed at the facility to work round the clock

It also informed that government of Sindh has decided that once the traveler at Taftan border are released will be screened again at Jacobabad border. In case of any suspected case identified the whole bus will be quarantined at the facility established at Sukkar

The situation report added that out of the 1462 pilgrims who reached in Gilgit 1,373 were screened on their return from Iran.

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) urged government to adopt more strict preventive measure especially screening at entry points of Pakistan

 

PMA suggested federal and provincial governments particularly the Sindh Government to increase the number of collection centers for corona virus test and advertise these centers through electronic and print media to rapidly detect the coronavirus patients.

 

PMA requested people to visit qualified doctors or government designated centers, if they feel to get advice or checkup regarding coronavirus.