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4 Chinese virus suspects in Lahore, Multan

January 26, 2020

LAHORE: The emergence of three Chinese patients, suspected of infected with coronavirus in Lahore, set alarm bells ringing on Saturday as the Punjab health authorities declared a state of emergency to deal with the threat.

The outbreak of deadly infectious disease has been reported in Wuhan, China earlier this month. According to details, a 23-year-old Chinese patient, namely Meilei, who is a resident of DHA Lahore, has been brought to Services Hospital with symptoms of flu, sore throat, cough, cold and high-grade fever, breathing difficulty, chest infection and body aches.

Unconfirmed reports suggest three Chinese patients, who had travelled to Pakistan from affected city of Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province, after the disease outbreak in that city, have been admitted to Services Hospital. The patients have been detected with the symptoms of coronavirus with animal-to-human transmission and a tendency of human-to-human infection.

However, sources told The News that only one patient’s details could be made available as two other patients were still staying in their home (s) in Lahore and not yet brought to the hospital. The hospital did not confirm admission of other two Chinese patients.

Earlier on Saturday, the National Institute of Health (NIH) confirmed that a 40-year-old Chinese man, Feng Fen, suspected to have contracted the coronavirus, had been admitted to Nishtar Hospital Multan. The man was shifted from the Chinese camp in the Industrial Estate in Multan, who had returned to Pakistan from Wuhan a few days ago.

Besides, according to unconfirmed reports, the Civil Aviation Staff at Multan International Airport, reportedly, had also separated two Chinese passengers, coming from Wuhan, showing symptoms of coronavirus patients.

Chinese researchers conclude that the coronavirus most likely came from snakes, as they put it, “Homologous recombination within the spike glycoprotein of the newly identified coronavirus may boost cross-species transmission from snake to human,” and may appropriately be called snake flu.

Wang Guangfa, a Chinese virologist of Peking University First Hospital, who contracted the corona virus, said that he caught the virus through his eyes because he was wearing a mask but not goggles.

The Chinese authorities had identified a new type of coronavirus (novel coronavirus, nCoV), isolated on Jan 7, 2020 diagnosed in Wuhan City, China, with preliminary epidemiological investigation that most cases worked at or were handlers and frequent visitors to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The first case of the new virus was confirmed to have contracted the virus on Dec 31, 2019.

Since the detection of the coronavirus, Chinese authorities have notified more than 800 human infections with 278 confirmed cases and reported 41 deaths in China. As of Jan 20, 2020, the cross-border notification cases had also been reported with 282 confirmed cases of 2019 nCoV from four countries including 278 cases in China, 2 cases in Thailand, one each in Japan and South Korea, while human infections have also been reported from Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and as far as the United States.

This situation has forced neighbouring countries at national and sub-national level to enhance their surveillance and vigilance for response in case of detection. Pakistan, accordingly, has started screening the passengers, especially coming from China at all airports in the country.

The virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. Like SARS, it can transmit from people-to-people through the respiratory tract.

A coordination meeting on ‘Pneumonia due to novel Corona Virus/Influenza-like illness preparedness’, was convened under the chairmanship of Dr Haroon Jahangir Khan, Director General Health Services Punjab. He dispatched district teams to all Chinese settlements/ camps for initial screening of the Chinese nationals, especially with travel history within the last two weeks.

The meeting activated the surveillance system along with geographical clustering for Pneumonia and influenza like illness to monitor trends of coronavirus and to employ effective strategy to counter the threat of transmission among local population.

Director CDC Dr Shahnaz said that instructions had been issued to all district focal points and rapid response teams to remain in close contact with those performing duties at the entry points. The arrangement is aimed at surveillance and vigilance with particular focus on patients with travel history from affected parts of the world, especially China. Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education (SHC&ME) Department would notify one hospital as treatment site for novel coronavirus in view of emergence of suspected cases.

The health authorities have advised the public to take care of their personal hygiene with frequent hand-washing, segregation from crowded places, wearing masks, covering mouth while coughing and sneezing and keeping away from patients with symptoms of the virus to avoid an infection.