LATEST UPDATES ON CORONAVIRUS IN PAKISTAN

Update (Feb 27, 2020): Coronavirus reaches Pakistan!
Two cases of COVID-19 or novel Coronavirus in Pakistan have been reported. Both patients recently came back from Iran. The patients have been quarantined. Due to the emerging situation, all academic institutions in Sindh and Balochistan have been closed. In Sindh, schools would be closed on February 27 and 28, while in Balochistan the schools have been shut down till March 15. Further directives will be issued after examining the situation.

  • The coronavirus outbreak has spread across 40 countries, killing around 2,700 people
  • At least 80,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness across the globe
  • Iran is the worst-hit country after China
  • At least 19 Iranians have died out of a total of 139 positive cases
  • Three isolation wards have been set up to deal with the health crisis in Karachi. One is at Civil Hospital, the other at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and the third one is in AKUH (Aga Khan University Hospital)
  • Helpline 1166 has been established for public safety from coronavirus in Pakistan

EXTRA PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES TO STAY SAFE FROM CORONAVIRUS IN PAKISTAN

To stay safe from coronavirus in Pakistan, it is important to take added preventive measures.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for 30 seconds. Wash the back of your hands, the palm area and under the nails.
  • Wear a protective mask, but if a person in front of you is coughing and sneezing, the outer surface of your mask might carry the infection. If you have a surgical mask make sure to discard it after using it for a day.
  • If you see someone sneezing and coughing, maintain a distance of 2 metres to avoid large droplets
  • If an infected person sneezes and coughs and touches any object, he can transfer the virus onto the object such as pen, mouse, laptop, doorknobs etc.
  • Remember, viruses can last for 48 hours on objects and the only effective way of getting rid of the virus is to wash them with soap and hot water. You can also keep a clean towel with you and wear protective gloves whenever touching objects as a safety measure.
  • Keep a separate glass, cup, food utensils, towel and other items of each member of the family – especially if you spot signs of influenza
  • Build your immunity system. Drink lots of fresh juices and take care of your health. Make sure you take proper sleep.

Update (Feb 24, 2020): At least 8 people have been killed in Iran and 43 cases have been reported of the deadly coronavirus disease. Pakistan has closed its borders with Iran amidst fear of the coronavirus outbreak in Pakistan. Armenia and Turkey also suspend incoming flights to stop the spread of the deadly disease. Most of the deaths have occurred in the city of Qom, which is one of the most-visited religious destinations in Iran. The health minister of Iran has advised no travel to and from the city of Qom to curtail the spread of disease.

Apart from Iran, Italy and South Korea have also reported coronavirus infected cases. At least 10 people have been killed in Italy so far. The death toll in South Korea rose to 11.


Update (Feb 4, 2020): According to the latest update on the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, medical test kits for the diagnosis of the illness have arrived from Japan and China in Pakistan. The number of cases affected by the deadly coronavirus is constantly rising. Around 20,000 cases have been reported across the world. At least 425 deaths have been reported in China. The first-ever death outside China occurred in the Philippines. Three cases have also been reported in India. No cases of the deadly coronavirus have been reported in Pakistan.

Moreover, Pakistan also resumed its flight operations to China, where stranded Pakistanis living in the virus-hit country safely reached their homeland. Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, informed that no Pakistanis or Chinese nationals are allowed to leave the epicenter of coronavirus, China, without spending a 14-day disease-free period. This is an added security measure to protect citizens of Pakistan from contracting the deadly virus.


The death toll from the new coronavirus, aka ‘Wuhan Pneumonia,’ is continuously rising, as the virus has spread across the globe. More than 100 people have died and around 4,515 cases have been reported as of Jan. 28, 2020.

So far, at least 14 cases have been confirmed in Thailand, the second most affected country in the world after China.

From comparisons to SARS and MERS to the preventive measures you should take, especially if you can’t avoid traveling—we will be addressing all important points related to the deadly virus in this blog.

Let’s begin.

WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?

2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new kind of respiratory virus that was identified for the first time in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Public health officials are constantly working to identify the source of the virus.

The new strain of coronavirus was first detected on December 31, 2019, in central China. It was initially linked to the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, a large animal and seafood market in Wuhan, which was also selling bats and snakes. Doctors and health experts believe that people contracted the virus by either touching an infected animal or consuming its meat. However, new research suggests that the outbreak in China probably originated in some other place before entering the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market.

Earlier in 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was also believed to have been spread via an animal source: civet cats.

SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS IN HUMANS

  • Don’t come in contact with people who have contracted the virus as doctors and health professionals have found out that the virus is spread through droplets
  • Since the disease is spread through airborne droplets, sneezing and coughing can cause the spread of the Coronavirus infection
  • Avoid touching your nose, hands or eyes if you are suffering from flu-like symptoms as it can spread the disease. Cover mouth and nose with a tissue and throw it immediately in the dustbin

PREVENTION TIPS OF CORONAVIRUS 

  • Don’t visit animal markets without taking any precautionary measures
  • Don’t consume undercooked meat. If you are handling raw meat, animal organs or milk it should be handled with care to prevent contamination with uncooked foods.
  • Make sure to load up your diet with Vitamin C
  • Take care of your health and build your stamina and strengthen your immune system
  • Wash your hands regularly

CORONA ISOLATION TECHNIQUES

Isolation and quarantine are two major tools to control the spread of coronavirus. As per the coronavirus isolation guideline, an isolation period of 14 days is recommended for individuals having flu-like symptoms of coronavirus or people who have traveled to the epicenter of the disease-stricken province of Hubei, Wuhan or to any part of China.

This measure helps avoid transmitting the contagious disease. Why a specific number of days for coronavirus isolation? This is because the incubation period of the virus is 14 days. Special screening measures are also being adopted at airports across the world as the World Health Organization (WHO) has now termed it as a global health emergency.

WHICH COUNTRIES ARE AFFECTED THE MOST FROM CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

There are various countries that have been affected by the deadly virus, apart from China, the epicenter of the deadly virus. One of the major reasons behind the spread is being attributed to the Lunar New Year celebration season, during which millions of people travel to and across China. The United States, Germany, Malaysia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Nepal, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Macao, UK, Italy, Vietnam, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Philippines, Cambodia, Finland, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Russia, Australia, Singapore and South Korea are the countries where new cases have been reported.

The United States of America declared the virus as a public health emergency on Jan 31, 2020, and announced the barring of foreign nationals who have recently been to China as the 7th coronavirus case surfaced. Apart from this anyone who has traveled to China’s Hubei Province in the past two weeks is asked to spend a 14-day quarantine period.

Japan reported 20 infected cases of coronavirus. A cruise ship in China was quarantined when an 80-year old passenger, who traveled from Tokyo, was diagnosed with the virus. The passengers on the ship remain in the ‘corona isolation’ for a period of 14 days.

The government of Japan officially classified it as a designated infectious disease on Feb 1, 2020. Holders of Chinese passports issued in Wuhan will also be prohibited from entering the country. Any foreign nationals traveling to Japan will be asked if they had been to Wuhan in the last two weeks. If they reply in affirmation, they won’t be allowed to enter Japan.

The number of coronavirus infected cases in Thailand are now 25. Three cases have been reported in Kerala, India. Around 120 people are in-home quarantine and have been advised to refrain from attending any public events and functions.

TRAVEL ADVICE TO CHINA

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding all possible travel to Wuhan, China. The government of China is also taking measures to quarantine the city and shut off the entire transportation in the city. The Chinese government also canceled public activities for the Lunar Year, which includes an annual event at the Guiyuan Temple that attracted around 700,000 tourists last year.

If you had planned your trip to China, then ask your travel company and airline if you can be refunded. Cathay Pacific Airways is refunding airplane ticket charges for people arriving or departing from Wuhan between January 21 and March 31, 2020. There are plenty of other travel groups that are offering refunds. The Chinese authorities have also imposed a travel ban on Wuhan and surrounding cities of Hubei province.

TIPS TO TRAVEL SAFE DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

If you have to travel to any part of the world during this epidemic, check out the following safety tips for travelers against coronavirus

  • Wear a protective mask as the virus is highly contagious and spreads through airborne droplets from sneezing and coughing.
  • Make sure to wash your hands regularly for a good 20 seconds. The CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand rub or using plenty of soap and water. Also, keep a hand sanitizer in your travel bag
  • Carry your own pillow and blankets. Don’t use the pillow in the airplane, you never know if it is infected 
  • Don’t shake hands or sit close to anyone coughing or sneezing
  • Whenever you wipe your face, nose or eyes throw the tissue paper into the dustbin immediately.
  • Wipe your seats and tray tables as an added precautionary measure.

SAFETY MEASURES AT THE AIRPORTS

Different airports around the world have ramped up their screening methods for infected passengers. Airports in Canada, the United States, Malaysia and Thailand have implemented more stringent screening measures. Crew members and passengers traveling from China are being made to undergo thermal screening. Special medical bays have been prepared to immediately quarantine passengers showing any symptoms of the deadly disease. Airport staff and flight attendants have been asked to wear protective masks.

Pakistan International Airlines has also announced that it will pre-screen prospective passengers on its flight at the Beijing Airport. Thermal scanners have also been installed at Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad to scan passengers arriving at international terminals.