PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has declared emergency and invoked Public Health (Surveillance and Response) Act, 2017 to pave way for speedy procurement of medical and surgical supplies to deal with threats posed by the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China.
The health department said that 10 medical students, who arrived at Bacha Khan International Air Port from China on Monday, were screened. They were allowed to go home after they were found normal.
On Monday, the secretary of relief, rehabilitation and settlement department in a notification declared an emergency throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for 30 days effective from February 3 to enable the health department and its subordinate bodies, offices and institutions to take necessary measures for preparedness, prevention, control and response to the threat of coronavirus.
The notification was issued, besides other reasons, after emergency was declared by secretary of Federal Ministry of National Health Services to ensure preventive steps against the virus, which originated from Wuhan, China on December 31.
10 students arriving from China found normal after screening
The World Health Organisation and reports by National Institute of Health Islamabad suggests that the virus transmits rapidly due to human interaction and contacts and the province risks the epidemic due to its proximity with China.
The reports said that people from the province were travelling to China that added to risk factor of human-to-human transmission of the virus and it necessitated putting in place measures for the preparedness, prevention, control and response of the spread of the disease throughout the province.
Meanwhile, a meeting was held in the office of Peshawar deputy commissioner wherein the WHO head of sub-office, Dr Saeed Akbar Khan, briefed the participants about the needs for prevention of the virus.
The meeting was attended by district health officer and members of the line departments. They were directed to speed up coordinated efforts for prevention and control of the virus.
The WHO official informed the meeting about the epidemiology, laboratory tests, surveillance, case reporting and making available personal protective equipment (PPEs) to safeguard the healthcare providers against the virus.
On the occasion, the deputy commissioner directed the DHO to procure PPEs from the local market for which funds would be provided by district administration.
The WHO, which is providing technical support to the health department, on the occasion donated one kit of PPEs and masks to the DHO.
The meeting was informed that four Category D hospitals were designated for having isolation unit in Peshawar. Three suspected patients in Swat, Bajaur and Peshawar are under observation in the hospitals. The doctors said they were fine but still being monitored constantly.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Director-General Health Services Dr Tahir Nadeem Khan issued directives saying that keeping in view the ongoing epidemic of coronavirus in China and its cross-border transmission to 27 countries with 17,386 reported cases and 362 deaths till date, there was a strong likelihood that suspected cases would be encountered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Peshawar.
To establish isolation facilities for suspected cases of virus, Police and Services Hospital, Peshawar has been declared as facility for isolation and in-patient management.
All emergency and routine services in the said facility for general public have been withdrawn till further order. The patients seeking treatment at the said hospital will be diverted to other health facilities in the provincial capital.
Dr Tahir told Dawn that they established isolation wards in medical teaching institutions in Peshawar and in every district to manage the suspected cases. “There is no threat to panic but these measures have been taken as precaution,” he added.
Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2020