ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has established an emergency operations room in response to China’s coronavirus, as a result, there will be strict surveillance of all flights, direct and indirect, coming from China.
Every week, there are 41 direct or indirect flights from China landing in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, said State Minister on Health Zafar Mirza in a tweet on Wednesday.
“These points of entry are being closely monitored in line with the International Health Regulations,” he said, adding that the country has strengthened its surveillance, quarantine and case management systems.
The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has also directed health authorities to monitor the spread of the new coronavirus from China’s Wuhan province.
“In the wake of the international alert, it is hereby directed that the Disease Surveillance Division and Central Health establishment shall monitor detect and exercise the highest level of vigilance,” the ministry said in a circular on Wednesday.
Following this, the National Institute of Health issued a health advisory “to alert and sensitise the health staff at border posts as well as in healthcare institutions of Pakistan to stay vigilant about any suspected cases coming from affected areas for early detection.”
Health authorities are asked to investigate anyone with symptoms of severe respiratory infections such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing and a history of travel to Wuhan within the last 15 days.
People who had contact with suspected or confirmed cases, infected animals, seafood, meat or any other animal products in China should also be monitored, the advisory stated.
The Huanan Seafood and Meat wholesale market in Wuhan is believed to the epicentre of the new outbreak by Chinese health authorities. More than 200 cases have been confirmed and six people died of coronavirus infection in China, according to country’s National Health Commission.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed its first case on Tuesday. Last weekend, the CDC started health screenings for Wuhan passengers arriving at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport, reported CNN.
Cases have also been reported from Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
The World Health Organisation will convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday to “determine whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it,” said the agency’s Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus in a post on social media.