Human coronaviruses (HCoVs) have long been considered inconsequential pathogens, causing the “common cold” in otherwise healthy people. In December 2019, a pathogenic HCoV, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), was recognized in Wuhan, China, and has caused severe illness and death. This pneumonia-causing virus in China is creating an alarm.

Being concerned is understandable; however, an overreaction would be a mistake, as the ultimate scope and effect of this outbreak are unclear at present as the situation is rapidly evolving. The virus has now spread to many countries, including France, Australia and the United States (US).

Similarly, a news story surfaced a few days ago regarding the first victim of the virus in Multan. The samples of the victims have already been collected, and further information on virus’ reach to Pakistan can be confirmed after the report’s finding. Pakistani authorities need to be on their toes. The government and all the concerned authorities must devise a strategy against the spread of the virus. It is to say our approach must be that of “nipping the evil in the bud.”

Considering the health sector’s situation in Pakistan, we need to copy the precautionary steps that other countries have adopted to prevent further spread of the virus. Public health authorities in the rest of the world have initiated preparedness and response activities. Wuhan leaders closed and disinfected the first identified market. The United States and several other countries have started entry screening of passengers from Wuhan at major ports of entry. Health practitioners in other Chinese cities, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea promptly identified travel-related cases, isolating individuals for further care.

The experts believe that basic infectious disease principles are vital in curbing the spread of coronavirus. So before anything else, the government must initiate a public awareness campaign. As suggested earlier, a small preparedness of the part of the officials and preventive measures by the ordinary people can prevent the spread of the virus in Pakistan.