Karachi hospital becomes 2nd facility in country to be able to detect coronavirus

Updated February 12, 2020

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People wearing protective facemasks walk out from a Pakistan-based Chinese company in Islamabad on January 30, after instructions from authorities to take preventive measures against the coronavirus. — AFP
People wearing protective facemasks walk out from a Pakistan-based Chinese company in Islamabad on January 30, after instructions from authorities to take preventive measures against the coronavirus. — AFP

The Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) in Karachi has become the second health institution in the country with the facility to detect the novel coronavirus, now dubbed COVID-19.

A press release issued by a DUHS spokesperson on Wednesday said that the varsity has received the testing kits that it imported from Korea.

The DUHS already possesses equipment needed to carry out the tests using the kits, including the technology to conduct PCR (polymerase chain reaction), it added.

Also read: Pakistani student in Wuhan misses father's funeral as anxiety grows

The institute is now only the second health facility in the country, after the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad, where the virus can be diagnosed.

According to the statement, DUHS Vice-Chancellor Prof Mohammed Saeed Quraishy had issued directions for the import of testing kits from Korea at the beginning of January, soon after the virus had emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The DUHS spokesperson said that the tests of COVID-19 cannot be carried out without strict precautionary measures and authoritative procedures, "therefore tests will only be performed on suspected patients being kept in the isolation ward."

A 10-bed isolation ward had already been set up at the varsity on the directions of the Sindh health department, according to the handout.

The death toll from the new coronavirus epidemic climbed past 1,100 on Wednesday but the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, as the World Health Organisation urged global unity to combat the “grave threat”.

No confirmed cases of the virus have been detected in Pakistan, according to Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza.

NIH had received 43 samples of suspected COVID-19 cases, all of which tested negative.