KARACHI: Hospitals in Sindh have been put on alert regarding the deadly coronavirus, Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said on Monday.
The alert has followed a recent notification of the ministry of national health services, regulations and coordination and advisory of the National Institute of Health on the subject, advising public health centres, private facilities and personnel monitoring movement on the borders to stay vigilant and share information about the measures taken in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
“We have received an advisory from the World Health Organisation. The virus can spread from infected animals to humans and it’s important that people protect themselves while they take care of animals,” Dr Pechuho said.
The new virus — which initially infected people in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has now spread in many Asian countries as well as the Middle East, Europe, Australia and the United States — has so far claimed lives of 80 people in China with more than 2,700 cases since its outbreak in late December.
The federal government is asked to take urgent measures for evacuating Pakistani students from Wuhan
In response, the Chinese government has put entire cities on lockdown, and a number of travel bans are in place. But despite the growing number of infections and deaths, the WHO decided to hold off on declaring this an emergency of international concern.
Evacuation of students
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has demanded that the government take immediate steps to facilitate and evacuate students currently residing in Wuhan.
“Their parents must be very distressed these days and it’s important that the government practically helps those students,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad representing the PMA.
Countries such as the US, France and Japan had already taken steps to evacuate their citizens from China, he added.
Dr Sajjad was of the opinion that though people should not panic, it was important that they know that the new viral infection had flu-like signs and symptoms and that they adopt basic personal hygiene habits to minimise risk of infection.
“If the infection is not diagnosed and treated at early stages, it can become complicated and cause acute respiratory infection,” he said.
He demanded that it’s time that the government set up virology labs at least in all provincial capitals and ensure that all health facilities put in place infection control measures.
The Pakistani embassy in Beijing has recently issued a statement according to which there are close to 500 students (who are registered with the embassy) in Wuhan alone.
“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,” the statement said.
The embassy advised Pakistani community members and students in Wuhan to comply with the efforts of Chinese health authorities for curbing the spread of coronavirus.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2020