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February 28, 2020

WHO reinforces inhouse emergency task force

Islamabad

February 28, 2020

Islamabad : With the confirmation of two Novel Coronavirus cases in Pakistan, the World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday reinforced the Emergency Task Force that was recently constituted in its Country Office for closer coordination with the national and provincial authorities to prevent the onslaught of Novel Coronavirus. A strategic health operations and communications room is now working 24/7 in the WHO Country Office for emergency response, ‘The News’ learnt here on Thursday.

WHO Country Head Dr. Palitha Mahipala established the Task Force immediately after the Coronavirus outbreak in China. The Task Force has been working with the Ministry of National Health Services, the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the provincial health authorities to make timely interventions in keeping with the fast-changing situation across the borders, particularly in the wake of reported cases of Coronavirus in Iran, Afghanistan and India.

“There is no need to panic. The government is fully prepared and has taken effective steps. We just need to be proactive and make all-out efforts to strengthen surveillance to stop disease transmission,” Dr. Palitha remarked as chair of a meeting of the Task Force in WHO early morning. The meeting took stock of the situation and discussed various prevention and control measures. WHO has, so far, provided support in the areas of capacity and risk assessment, screening and surveillance, supplies and equipment, and case management as part of overall infection prevention and control interventions. Dr Palitha urged members of the Task Force to remain vigilant and on their toes to ensure timely support to the government.

The identification of suspected cases of Coronavirus has already been made possible, with WHO providing infrared thermo guns that measures body temperature without touching an individual. Moreover, WHO has provided over 1,000 personal protective equipment including surgical gloves, masks, hand sanitizers, gowns, goggles, liquid soap, and other supplies) to the Directorate of Central Health Establishment in the Ministry of National Health Services. Another consignment of 500 PPEs is expected to be delivered to the Ministry in a couple of days, it was learnt. In addition, WHO has provided IEC material (flyers and leaflets) to raise health awareness of travellers and general masses about the prevention and control of Coronavirus.

WHO is also learnt to have provided PPEs and technical guidance for the establishment of isolation wards at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS)-Islamabad, Services Hospital-Lahore, Allama Iqbal Memorial Hospital-Sialkot, Nishtar Hospital-Multan, Benazir Shaheed Hospital-Rawalpindi, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical University-Karachi, Khyber Medical University (KMU)-Peshawar, DHQ Hospital-Gawadar and Sheikh Zaid Hospital-Quetta.