The number of coronavirus cases has jumped to 53 in Pakistan. Sindh has reported the highest 35 cases, while one case has also been reported in Punjab.
Samaa TV anchorperson Amber Shamsi spoke to Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid about their preparations on her show Sawal Sunday night.
Rashid said the patient who tested positive for the virus in Lahore returned from the UK via Dubai on March 10. He developed symptoms of the virus after having initially been cleared at the airport, she said.
He tested positive at a private lab and informed the authorities who then verified the case, according to the health minister. He’s been admitted to an isolation ward at the Mayo Hospital.
Rashid said the patient was stable while members of his family and servants had tested negative for the virus. She said they were trying to trace out everyone he came in contact with.
Regarding the measures to prevent the coronavirus outbreak, she said the government had limited the number of flights and only Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports were operational.
The anchorperson asked her if she considered it necessary to restrict the international arrival of passengers.
“I understand that this is already under consideration and a decision would be made in the next couple of days,” Rashid said.
She said previously the authorities were in the prevention mode, but now they have sprung into the mitigation mode.
The minister said this was why educational institutions were closed and all kinds of public gatherings were prohibited in Punjab.
She said the government tried to have the Raiwind congregation called off but the participants believed that they could gather and pray for the welfare of the country.
“They finished it off a little early while we had also set up camps there for screening purposes,” Rashid said.
However, she said that people must heed the restrictions put in place by the government.
“This is not a holiday season so that you could go on outing and shopping,” she said. “These are given for you to stay indoors with your family.”
She said the spread of virus could be limited significantly if the masses do not venture out. The minister also pointed to limited facilities in the country in this regard.
About the arrangements made by the Punjab government, she said they had one focal lab and all tests of the screened-out individuals were being conducted free of cost.
Recently the Punjab government screened 3,000 Chinese individuals and they all tested negative, Rashid said. Now the government is preparing for the tests of pilgrims in DG Khan.
“Currently we have quarantined 750 pilgrims in DG Khan, while nearly 2,500 were screened earlier,” she said. “Another 1,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive in the coming days.”
The minister kept stressing the need for self-quarantine during the show. She said older people having different diseases are the most vulnerable as they have lower immunity.
Rashid said the provincial government has 10,000 testing kits and more are being sought. She, however, said the case history of every patient has also to be seen in this regard.