ISLAMABAD: A day after the Health Ministry directed authorities concerned to remain alert following the possible spread of coronavirus from China, Pakistan on Thursday started screening at four major airports all passengers arriving from the neighbouring country.
The spread of the pathogen – known by its technical name 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – can cause respiratory diseases in animals, birds and humans.
A SARS-like virus has claimed 17 lives since emerging on December 31 in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. As of Thursday, more than 570 people have been infected across China.
“In view of the current outbreak of coronavirus in China, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has introduced new screening measures to prevent the virus from entering the country through air travellers,” a CAA press release said.
The authority said measures focused on screening all the passengers coming in from China to Islamabad through 17 weekly flights “for possible symptoms that the deadly virus causes.”
As per the preventive measures at Islamabad International Airport, “every passenger from a Chinese flight” would have to pass through health counters set up by the CAA at international arrivals level 2.
At the facility, a doctor and two paramedics from the government health department would screen the passengers through thermal body scanning machines and thermometers, simultaneously.
In case someone is identified as the virus-carrier, he/she would be kept in isolation rooms designated by the CAA for such passengers till their shifting to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) hospital to keep the patient in quarantine.
Moreover, at the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi; Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore; and Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar, the CAA has also installed state-of-the-art thermal scanner at arrivals for immediate identification of the infected passengers by health officials.
A quarantine room has already been provided to health department for tackling such cases as per international standards.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) tweet, the authority’s chief is vigilant about the spread of coronavirus across Asia.