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March 11, 2020

76 suspected coronavirus patients reported in Punjab

National

March 11, 2020

LAHORE: Ever since the epidemic of coronavirus struck the city of Wuhan, China, a total of 76 suspected coronavirus patients have been reported in Punjab but none of them has been tested positive.

The country is in panic as 19 patients of coronavirus have been confirmed in Pakistan including 15 in Karachi, two in Islamabad and one case each in Gilgit and Quetta. The coronovirus, which is named Covid-19 by World Health Organisation (WHO), has swept across 115 countries and territories around the world.

As many as 11 patients, suspected of coronavirus, are still under observation in hospitals in different cities across the province. The suspected patients have been kept in isolation rooms including three patients in DHQ hospital, Gujranwala, two each in Mayo Hospital and Doctors Hospital in Lahore and one each in DHQ hospital, Hafizabad, DHQ hospital, Sargodha and DHQ hospital, Lodharan. As many as 65 patients have been cleared of suspicion of contracting the virus and discharged from hospitals from across the province. However, sources informed that two patients including a NAB prisoner and a patient from Gujranwala have also been kept in High Dependency Unit at the Services Hospital, but it could not be confirmed if they were suffering from symptoms similar to coronavirus. “As only those patients, suspected of carrying coronavirus symptoms, are supposed to be kept in HDU isolation, but officials deny that these patients were being kept for suspicion of coronavirus,” a doctor at the Services Hospital told The News Tuesday.

He also informed that a doctor had also voluntarily presented himself at the hospital to be observed over suspicion of coronavirus, but the virus was not confirmed in the patient either.

The principal and medical superintendent of the Services Hospital, however, did not respond to this correspondent’s call to confirm the details. The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department officials informed that 10 patients were immediately cleared of the suspicion, while 55 patients were cleared after testing negative. The test result of the remaining 11 suspected patients is still awaited. The officials informed that in the last 15 days the health department has screened for coronavirus 4,354 passengers coming from different countries. However, they said the symptoms of coronavirus have not been found among any of these passengers. The coronavirus has affected 118,396 people in 115 countries and claimed 4,267 lives around the world so far.

The medical experts feared that Pakistan was extremely vulnerable to cause an epidemic as it shared borders with the two hotbeds of coronavirus ie China and Iran. All 19 cases confirmed in Pakistan are connected to the spread from Iran, which prompted government to enforce strict screening at Taftan border. However, it is being reported that the screening services and quarantine facilities at Pak-Iran border were insufficient, which was causing leaking of cases into Pakistan and further spreading through their immediate connections.

Similarly, there was a need to enforce strict protocols to check suspects of coronavirus at borders with China to stop the spread of virus into Pakistan. Although, Afghanistan was spared of an epidemic so far, but a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan could also cause swift proliferation of coronavirus.

The medical experts warn Pakistan’s health authorities that the virus could easily go out of hands and turn into an epidemic, therefore needed to enforce strict monitoring of passengers coming by air and sea routes as well.

PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said the cases in Pakistan have more than doubled in the last 24 hours. This is not surprising. Disease has spread in 106 countries. All 19 patients have contracted virus from abroad, and are stable. There is no evidence of local spread as yet. If we act responsibly we can avoid the virus spread. The most important thing is to limit the spread of coronavirus is by ensuring hygiene; washing hands properly, avoid touching our face and keeping distance from sick people. “The government is working hard to contain the spread, but we all need to play our role in this fight,” he added.