Karachi                  -               Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, Director of International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi has said that precaution is the only weapon to fight against the emerging threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). There is no pathological laboratory performing a diagnostic test in Pakistan for the confirmation of coronavirus infections, he lamented.

He was speaking at a meeting held at the National Institute of Virology, which works under the Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi, on Tuesday. The meeting was also attended by Dr. Muhammad Rashid, senior research officer of the institute of virology, and other scientists.

Prof. Iqbal Choudhary expressed serious concerns over the media reports of the cases of corona viruses in Pakistan, pointing out that a recent cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan province of China was caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.

He said that there was a need to monitor and control all immigrants and visitors, livestock and goods at entry points. People at all international airports should be scanned for temperature and suspected individuals should be examined in isolation, he said.

He said that the National Institute of Virology was working to produce quality researches and researchers who could play their due role in the area of research and development in the country.

Dr. Rashid, in the meeting, said that there were only seven coronaviruses known to infect human, the well-known examples of human coronaviruses were SARS and MERS both viral outbreak had caused significant life losses at their time of outbreaks.

Coronaviruses are group of viruses that generally exist and maintain their life cycle in animals like camels, bats, cats, snakes and other wild animals, he said, adding that. SARS has caused 774 deaths in southern China in 2002-3 and MERS was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia has caused 858 deaths. The newly emerged coronavirus named as 2019-nCoV is the third highly-virulent entry into the humans, has already caused more than 100 deaths and the death toll rises every hour in China, he said.

The 2019-nCoV infection may cause mild to severe respiratory disease, initial clinically presentation include fever, dry cough, myalgia (muscle pain) and fatigue and gradually progress into sever productive cough (a cough that produces phlegm), episodes of headache, hemoptysis (coughing up blood) and occasional diarrhea, he said.

He said that in case of suspected invasion the person should be kept in isolation and treated within the confined premises. The nCoV is highly infectious it usually infects through mouth and nose, the use of a surgical mask can minimize the risk, he maintained.

He said that there was no vaccine available against nCoV neither any anti-viral drug found effective to fight against the viral infection.