WUHAN (China): Medical personnel arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on Saturday.—AFP
WUHAN (China): Medical personnel arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on Saturday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD / MULTAN: There are approximately 28,000 Pakistani students all over China, around 800 resident traders and around 1,500 Pakistani traders who travel to China frequently, according to a statement issued by the Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing.

“There are close to 500 students in Wuhan alone. These numbers have to take into account the fact that many of our students come to China either on self financing or on the scholarships offered by the Chinese 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. So the Embassy has an approximate estimation,” the statement says.

“Pakistani community members and students in Wuhan are advised to comply with the efforts of Chinese health authorities for curbing the spread of novel coronavirus (NCV). The Embassy urges Pakistani students to remain vigilant and adopt good personal hygiene practices. In case of any reports of viral infection in members of Pakistani community/students, it is requested to cooperate with local health authorities and share immediately the complete information with Pakistan’s embassy in Beijing,” it says.

Meanwhile as panic has been triggered across Pakistan after rumours that the first case of the NCV has been reported in Multan, the Ministry of National Health Services has declared it incorrect and misreporting by media.

“There is no confirmed case of NCV from Pakistan as we speak [Saturday 9:00pm]. There is an outbreak in China so as per international protocols we have to be vigilant and keep every suspected passenger, who has history of travelling to China, under observation,” Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said while talking to Dawn.

Two people suspected of having contracted coronavirus have been admitted to Nishtar Hospital in Multan

“Fact is that on Jan 21 a Chinese national was taken under observation from Multan Airport as he was having fever. The passenger, who is a male in mid 20s, has been showing signs of improvement which shows that he is not suffering from the severe acute respiratory infections, which is the major sign of NCV,” he said.

The SAMP said that despite signs of improvement, the patient’s samples had been collected and were being checked.

“A part of media is incorrectly reporting about diagnosis of first case of NCV in Pakistan. We expect responsible reporting by media. Please do not add to the nation’s anxiety about NCV and meticulously check facts before reporting. Thank you” SAPM stated in a Tweet.

However, two people suspected of having contracted the coronavirus have been admitted to the Nishtar Hospital in Multan.

A 40-year-old Chinese national, Feng Fen, was brought to the hospital on Friday night with symptoms similar to those of coronavirus.

Mr Feng had arrived at Karachi airport on PIA flight PK332 on Jan 21 from Wuhan, to visit the Multan-Sukkur motorway project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He is an employee of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation and was staying at a camp at the Industrial Estate in Multan.

According to hospital sources, another patient, identified as Rahmatullah, resident of Multan, has also been admitted to the hospital with the same symptoms. Rahmatullah had been visiting China in connection with his business and returned to Pakistan on Jan 24.

Talking to the media, Nishtar Medical University Vice Chancellor Dr Mustafa Kamal Pasha said the suspected coronavirus patients were under treatment and being provided proper medical care. He said that blood samples of both patients had been sent to National Institute of Health, Islamabad.

He further said that the patients had been kept in the isolation ward and were being administered medicines meant for sore throat and flu.

“The medicines are showing results as the patients are recovering speedily, which is why we are hoping that they are not victims of coronavirus and are rather suffering from normal flu and seasonal throat infection. However, their treatment is under way while adopting all guidelines and parameters set by the World Health Organisation,” he added.

According to an official report of the health department, Mr Fen returned from China nine days ago and was suffering from fever and sore throat for the last two days. His Chinese attendant, driver and translator were identified as his primary contacts.

Sources in the health department disclosed that the samples of both suspected patients were being handing over to the Chinese Embassy from where they will be sent to Beirut or Hong Kong. They said that Mr Fen’s attendant and translator were being kept under observation.

Dr Pasha however claimed that both suspected patients were recovering and stable.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2020