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The first case of coronavirus in Balochistan has been confirmed in a 12-year-old boy

The first case of coronavirus in Balochistan has been confirmed in a 12-year-old boy, taking the total number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan to 19.

The patient has recent travel history of Iran, according to Dr Noorullah Musakhail, the medical superintendent at Fatima Jinnah Hospital in Quetta.

Two more cases of novel coronavirus emerged from Sindh as well on Tuesday, pushing the tally to 15 in the province, the Sindh Health Department said. One of the patients is from Hyderabad who arrived from Syria via Doha while the other is from Karachi who arrived from Iran via Dubai, the officials said. “The health department is in the process of tracking down all the contacts for further testing,” the statement added.

So far 19 Pakistanis have been tested positive for COVID-19, the mysterious viral pneumonia-like disease caused by the novel coronavirus. One of the patients has already fully recovered and discharged from the hospital in Karachi last week.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza confirmed the report of fresh cases of coronavirus in the country, bringing total to 19. “I can confirm nine new cases of coronavirus in Karachi. All these cases are contacts of an already confirmed case,” he said in a tweet. “Further contacts are being traced and tested.”

Dr Mirza said that the confirmed cases in Karachi last evening are in stable clinical condition, and almost all of them are asymptotic. They all had travel history and were picked up during contact tracing of an existing coronavirus patient, he said, and appealed to the media to respect the privacy of the patients and their families and avoid sharing their personal details. He said that there is no need to panic as things are ‘under control’. “In the present situation, we need to focus on prevention and showing of responsibility,” he said.

Meanwhile, six air traffic controllers have been quarantined after they were suspected of having contracted the novel coronavirus, Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Abdus Sattar Khokhar said in a statement. The suspected patients were posted at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi and have been isolated as per the standard operating procedure, Khokhar said, adding that directions have been issued to screen all staff members of air traffic control who are posted in Karachi for any symptoms of COVID-19.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed all government and private hospitals to share details of patients with symptoms of pneumonia so that their further medical investigations can be conducted to ensure that they have not contracted the mysterious disease.

The Sindh health department has reportedly suggested a number of measures to the provincial task force in order to deal with the threat of the virus. During a departmental meeting on Tuesday, Sindh Minister of Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho suggested that the Sindh Health Department will be setting up its own health and screening desk at the Karachi Airport to screen all the patients coming to the city. “All private and public hospitals will be setting up a frontline desk for information on coronavirus. An advisory will be issued to avoid large public gatherings. It has been suggested to the chief minister to ban large public gatherings, like Pakistan Super League. An advisory will be issued for people to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have recently come to Karachi from a country with positive cases. Shutting down schools for a longer duration has been suggested to the chief minister,” according to the minister’s spokesperson.

On Tuesday, Pakistan also extended the closure of its Chaman border with Afghanistan for another seven days amid the coronavirus outbreak in the neighbouring country. According to security officials, the Chaman border remained closed for an eighth day on Tuesday, with all trade and immigration activities suspended and over 15,000 people having undergone screening.

According to a notification issued by interior ministry, the extension is effective from March 9, in order to put in place additional necessary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus on both the sides of the border which is in the best interest of the people of both the brotherly countries.

Authorities have also quarantined 34 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa locals who arrived from Iran in Balochistan till March 10 in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. According to the KP Health Department, the individuals belong to different districts of the province and the step has been taken as a precautionary measure. The officials told that all persons are healthy and no symptoms of the virus have been observed as yet.


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