ISLAMABAD                  -            The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday announced extending its support to government of Pakistan after the confirmation of two Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country.

A couple of days back, the Pakistani health authorities had confirmed two cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Both the confirmed cases are the Pakistani citizens who travelled to Iran for pilgrimage and subsequently returned to their hometowns of Karachi and Rawalpindi with initial respiratory symptoms of the virus.

After a series of rigorous tests and investigations, the Government of Pakistan is now treating the two patients as per standardized clinical protocols.

Meanwhile, agencies such as World Health Organization (WHO) are stepping up provision of immediate support to the government so that preparedness and response measures are in place to handle the situation as it develops.

WHO Representative in Pakistan, Dr. Mahipala Palithpa, expressed concern over the current situation in Pakistan. She said, “I am impressed by the swift and diligent way the government has handled the crisis so far, and WHO is committed to support them every step of the way.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern; all countries neighboring Pakistan - Iran, Afghanistan, China and India - have registered at least one confirmed case of the virus. It’s critically important that countries and international organizations work hand in hand to minimize the spread of the virus,” he said.

The WHO has assisted Pakistan’s preparedness and response to COVID-19 in various ways. As a priority, screenings of travellers at all points of entry to the country have been set up.

For example, screenings are currently being carried out for international travellers who are arriving at airports in Islamabad, Lahore, Sialkot, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.  Screenings at Gwadar, Taftan and Chaman ground-crossing points have also been established for those entering from neighbouring Afghanistan or Iran. 

Moreover, WHO is supporting to bolster the surveillance system to ensure suspected cases are investigated in a timely manner and confirmed as per the set international standards.

Moreover, WHO has been supporting health care providers and facilities to build their capacity for the preparedness and response.

The WHO has also provided eight kits of medical equipment to the relevant Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMA) and Departments of Health.