Both coronavirus patients 'stable', others test negative: Dr Zafar Mirza

Updated February 28, 2020

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The two patients confirmed of coronavirus in Pakistan are "stable and improving," Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV/File
The two patients confirmed of coronavirus in Pakistan are "stable and improving," Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV/File

The two patients confirmed to have coronavirus in Pakistan are "stable and improving", Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Thursday.

In a tweet shared on Thursday night, the premier's special assistant on health added that all those contacts who were traced up until now and had been tested were negative for the virus.

On Wednesday, Pakistan confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19 — one case in Karachi and the other in Islamabad.

The first case was confirmed in a 22-year-old male patient in Sindh had travelled to Iran where he acquired the virus. The second was confirmed in a patient at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) in Islamabad who came from Skardu. The patient had also visited Iran a month ago.

Earlier on Thursday, Mirza assured that effective measures were being taken to deal with novel coronavirus in Pakistan.

He was speaking to journalists during his visit to the Taftan border where he along with federal health secretary Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik and provincial ministers Zahoor Buledi and Mir Mohammad Arif Mohammad Hassani inspected arrangements made at Pakistan House and the Federal Investigation Agency’s immigration office in connection with containing the spread of the virus.

On Friday morning, Mirza shared pictures from his visit to the Taftan-Zahdan border.

"Reviewed the situation and now we have a plan! Over next few days we will gradually allow Pakistani Zaireens returning from Iran in batches after full health screening. Point of entry is being strengthened. Thanks to all for the hard work!" he said in a tweet.

The premier's special assistant also added that he had met with the Balochistan chief minister and reviewed preparation to "effectively address" coronavirus.

"A lot is being done in Balochistan — much more needs to be done," he said.

Pakistan has suspended all flights to Iran and closed land borders with its neighbour, officials confirmed on Friday in light of the swelling number of coronavirus cases in the neighbouring country.

Road and rail movement between the two countries had already been suspended earlier in the week.

Flights to and from China, the epicentre of the deadly outbreak, and Afghanistan, which also detected its first case this week, are still operating and their land borders with Pakistan are also open.

"Aviation Divison has decided to cease all direct flights between Pakistan and Iran," Aviation Senior Joint Secretary Abdul Sattar Khokhar said.

No Pakistani airlines are operating between the two countries, meaning the move hits three Iranian carriers — Iran Air, Mahan Air and Taban Air.

Respiratory masks disappear

With the confirmation of the first coronavirus patient at PIMS, respiratory masks disappeared from the markets in Rawalpindi and Islamabad due to high demand and the decision to allow their export and other personal protection equipment (PPE).

In a notification, the deputy commissioner said following the confirmation of two coronavirus cases in Pakistan, shopkeepers and vendors were advised against all kinds of hoarding and profiteering of safety masks and to ensure their availability.

The district administration on Thursday also seized 20,000 face masks and raw material from a small unit in Chaklala Scheme-III.

Separately, The Sindh government on Thursday said that no new cases of the novel coronavirus had emerged in the province.

"There are no positive cases of coronvirus from today," said media coordinator to the health minister, Meeran Yousuf.

She had added that the patient, who had earlier tested positive for the virus, was still under quarantine at the hospital, refuting rumours of his release from the hospital circulating on social media. She added, however, that the "family of the affected male was also cleared and released from isolation as their results were negative".