A man suspected to have contracted the coronavirus has been admitted to the Nishtar Hospital in Multan, the National Institute of Health (NIH) stated in a press release issued on Saturday.
According to Multan and South Punjab's Focal Person for Epidemic Diseases Dr Atta ur Rehman, a 40-year-old Chinese man, Feng Fen, was shifted from the Chinese camp in the Industrial Estate to Nishtar Hospital last night. The man had returned to Pakistan from Wuhan 10 days ago.
"One suspected case is admitted in isolation in Multan right now. His clinical condition is stable and it does not seem to be a case of novel coronavirus. Relevant samples have been taken," the NIH press release said.
The statement clarified that no case of corona virus has been confirmed in the country yet.
Earlier, Special Assistant to the PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza was quoted by The Express Tribune as saying that Pakistan will send relevant samples to international labs if cases of the virus surfaced in the country.
The respiratory virus has claimed 41 lives since emerging from a seafood and animal market in Wuhan. It has infected hundreds of other people in China and been detected as far away as the United States.
Animals are suspected to be the primary source of the outbreak, with Chinese health officials saying the virus originated from a market where wild animals were illegally sold. Studies published this week suggest that the virus may have originated in bats or snakes.
The virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract. The first case of the new virus was confirmed on December 31, 2019.
'Approximately 28,000 Pakistanis in China,' says FO
Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui has said there are approximately 28,000 Pakistani students all over China. Furthermore, around 1,500 Pakistani traders travel to China frequently.
"In Wuhan alone, there are close to 500 Pakistani students. While making these estimates, the embassy has to take into account the fact that many of our students come to China either on self financing or on the scholarships offered by China and they don't always register with the embassy.
"Similarly our traders and other visitors from Pakistan also don't always register with the embassy, which is why we have an approximate estimation of the number of Pakistani citizens in China," she said.
Pakistan's Embassy in China also issued a notification for Pakistani citizens living in Wuhan and called for them to comply with the Chinese government's instructions for curbing the virus.
"Pakistani citizens in Wuhan are asked to comply with the measures set up by the Chinese government. If any Pakistani citizen has contracted the virus, they should comply with the Chinese health department's instructions," the notification said.
With the growing risk of the virus spreading to Pakistan, PIA had announced on Thursday that it has begun screening prospective passengers for the virus at Beijing Airport.
Thermal scanners have also been installed at four major airports within Pakistan. The scanners — installed at airports in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar — are intended to check passengers arriving at international terminals.
Passengers are facing similar screening measures at airports around the world.