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Agencies
February 28, 2020

Pakistan screens hundreds; suspends Iran flights

Top Story

A
Agencies
February 28, 2020

By News Desk

KARACHI: Pakistani authorities were scrambling on Thursday to screen hundreds of people who had recently arrived from Iran, a major new hotspot for coronavirus, after Islamabad confirmed its first two infections.

The government also announced suspension of all flights to and from Iran, reported Geo News. Officials in Karachi, where one of the two cases was detected, said they were also working to ensure a supply of face masks as prices shot up. At least one of the two cases announced on Wednesday, a 22-year-old man in Karachi, appeared to have contracted the virus in Iran, authorities have said. The government had now collected the data for 1,500 people in Sindh who had arrived in Pakistan from Iran recently, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told a press conference. “They would be screened diligently until they are cleared,” Shah said, adding authorities were contacting each to gauge their level of exposure and asking them all to remain at home for 15 days as a precaution.

It was unclear how many more people were being screened throughout the country. Shah also said the provincial government was working with local surgical mask importers and manufacturers to ensure a supply for the province.

There are growing fears in Pakistan—sandwiched between China and Iran, both hotspots for the disease—over how the country would deal with the outbreak. Schools were closed in Sindh and in Balochistan province, bordering Iran, on Thursday. The cost of surgical masks had already risen nearly tenfold in Karachi, from 180 rupees ($1.16) to 1,400 rupees, ($9.09) per box of 50 masks.

“A lot of buyers are coming to us... but the stocks are gone,” said Noman Qureshi, a shop owner in a medical market in downtown Karachi.