According to media sources, there are no laboratories in Pakistan equipped to diagnose coronavirus and the authorities in China and the Netherlands have been approached to help confirm suspected cases of arriving passengers in the region.
The infection that emerged in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan on December 31 has killed 26 people and has infected at least 830 so far, and has also been detected in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and the US.
There are only some laboratories in the world that can diagnose 2019-nCoV, a new strain of coronavirus that was not previously identified in humans and not much is known about it.
Only the U.S. Disease Control and Prevention Centers and some laboratories in China and the Netherlands are able to confirm cases.
“We will send samples to these countries for confirmation,” Special Assistant to the PM on Health DR Zafar Mirza said on Friday.
Chairing a meeting of Heads of Federal Hospitals and Health Institutions, the PM’s assistant reviewed the situation and instructed authorities to speed up the establishment of a comprehensive surveillance system and quarantine areas at all entry ports on February 8.
He reviewed the measures taken by major hospitals to address possible coronavirus cases.
It was decided to set up special stalls at the arrival lounges of the country’s airports to warn travelers about the illness. Pakistan has already begun screening passengers at four of the country’s airports.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has installed thermal scanners at Islamabad International Airport, Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport and Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport.
Every passenger on a Chinese flight will have to pass through health counters at airports according to the CAA. A doctor from the government health department and two paramedics will simultaneously screen passengers through thermal body scanning machines and thermometers.
In the event that someone is confirmed as the virus carrier, they will be placed in CAA-designated isolation rooms until they are transferred to a hospital, said the sources.