ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza recently confirmed that four Pakistanis have been infected with novel coronavirus (NCV) in China, while speaking at a Press Conference. Dr Zafar Mirza also requested the media not to reveal their names.
While addressing the Press, Dr Mirza said he wanted to assure the families of the four NCV-affected Pakistanis that they were getting the best possible treatment and there were signs of improvement in them. “Pakistani ambassador and staff in China are in touch with the victims. Even if media gets information about the victims, I request it not to disclose their names,” Mirza said.
The SAPM said there were 6,052 confirmed NCV cases in 18 countries of the world, with all 132 deaths occurring in China. “As many as 99 per cent of the cases are reported from China and there is no confirmed case in Pakistan,” he added.
Dr Mirza said the Chinese government had taken extraordinary measures to stop transmission of the virus from Wuhan city. “Even people are not being allowed to move from one city to another. If a Chinese citizen wants to go out of the country, he/she will be kept under observation for 14 days and will be allowed to leave if no symptoms appear during two weeks. China has been screening the passengers to make the world secure,” he added.
The SAPM said the prime minister, cabinet, health ministry and relevant stakeholders were working in close coordination to ensure optimal level of preparedness and response with regard to coronavirus, adding that being a responsible state, Pakistan had been taking steps to ensure that the disease did not spread in the country. “There are four suspects in Pakistan, but not a single case has been confirmed,” he added.
“In view of the rapid spread of NCV, human-to-human transmission and considering that Pakistan is China’s neighbouring country with potential risk of cross-border transmission of the virus, the government of Pakistan is taking necessary measures in compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR-2005) for prevention and preparedness for this public health event at Points of Entry (PoE). In this regard, advisories, guidelines, standard protocols were issued by the Ministry of Health.
“Emergency review meeting is being convened every 48 hours. A technical consultation was held with global experts on infectious disease to seek guidance on international best practices to meet the situation arising from spread of NCV,” he added.
According to Dr Mirza, 97pc of those infected with the virus recover. “It is a new virus with symptoms similar to that of seasonal flu. Therefore, the disease can only be confirmed through a laboratory test,” he said.
He said a core committee of top health hierarchy had been formed that met every 24 hours, whereas the NCV Emergency Operation Centre met every 48 hours.