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Pakistan on High Alert Amid Coronavirus Outbreak in China

Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has issued an order for the highest level of vigilance and necessary preventive measures amid the deadly Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China.

According to the Health officials in Islamabad,  the number of coronavirus cases in central China has surged to over 800 and reportedly at least two dozen people have died, so far no infections have been reported in Pakistan.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza, chaired a meeting of senior officials on Wednesday and discussed the measures and a response mechanism after the recent cases of coronavirus in China, reportedly.

“I am writing to all chief ministers to ensure necessary arrangements in all the provinces,” said Mirza. “I am establishing contact with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) while we will also be working closely with the Embassy of China in Pakistan to deal with the crisis.”

“The directorate has been advised to strengthen health desk and quarantine arrangements at the ports of entry,” he added.

Pakistan faces a greater risk as the number of travelers from and to China has increased since the inception of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), compromising of multi-billion dollar infrastructure development projects.

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As being reported, there are 41 incoming flights from China to Pakistan every week, with mostly Chinese passengers coming in and leaving Pakistan.

At least 10 cities in China’s central Hubei province are facing travel restrictions, including Wuhan itself. Reports confirm that the virus has spread to five countries, including the US.

Chinese authorities have warned that the disease could spread further in the ongoing holiday season during which millions travel at home and abroad amid official advisories to people of Wuhan, the epicenter of illness, not to leave the city.

“Chinese authorities have imposed strict travel restrictions in the area around Wuhan. Travelers should be aware that the Chinese government could prevent them from entering or exiting parts of Hubei province. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the advisory notes.


Saman Siddiqui

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