LAHORE - Authorities on Wednesday confirmed first two cases of novel coronavirus in the country, days after Pakistan closed down its border with Iran over the virus threat.

The first case of novel coronavirus in the country was reported in Karachi on Wednesday evening as authorities step up efforts to ensure strict preventive measures in the port city.

An official of the health ministry later confirmed another case but insisted that the condition of both the victims was out of danger. Special Assistant on Health Zafar Mirza said both the patients were being provided medical treatment at a special ward. He said the cases were reported from Islamabad and Karachi and both the pateints had arrived from Iran during the last couple of weeks.

The Balochistan government has announced to close all educational institutions till March 15.

The authorities however, revealed identity of only one of the two victims. A 22-year-old victim was identified by officials as Yahya Jaffri, who returned to Pakistan from Iran by using a Karachi-bound flight a few days ago.

An official of the Sindh Health department said the victim was immediately shifted to an isolation ward. He said the other family members of the victim were also put under strict surveillance.

Recently, several Middle East countries including Iran, Iraq, UAE, Oman, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Bahrain reported cases of the new virus. Afghanistan confirmed two coronavirus case a few days ago. The Wold Health Organisation said coronavirus was spreading faster outside China.

The epidemic swelled on Wednesday with cases in South Korea surging past 1,000 after deaths soared in Iran and infections appeared in previously untouched countries, prompting dire warnings that the world was not ready to contain it. The virus has rapidly spread in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, even as the number of deaths and


 fresh cases decline at the disease epicentre in China.

Towns and cities have been sealed off in an attempt to stop the contagion, while hotels in the Canary Islands and Austria were locked down on Tuesday because of suspected cases. In Iran, which has reported 15 deaths out of nearly 100 infections, even the country’s deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi said he had contracted the virus.