KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday called for a suspension of all flights from Iran after the confirmation of two coronavirus cases in the country in people who had recently traveled there.
The chief minister told the media that he tried to contact Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza, Interior Minister Ejaz Shah and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to discuss the confirmation of the case.
“Flights from Iran should be suspended immediately in order to control the situation. These are just some of the preventative measures that we can take right now to stop the spread of virus,” he added.
The chief minister added he will speak to the federal government about screening at airports.
“I was told that (health) screening at the airport was not adequate. We have also asked the private sector in this regard since they might have more expertise in this area,” he said.
“Around 1,500 people have been identified who have traveled (to Sindh) from Iran in the past few days. If anyone has any symptoms, our team will visit and monitor them,” Murad said.
The chief minister further said the 1,500 have been divided by union council and will be contacted by the authorities.
“A trained person will speak to them and ask them details such as when they returned to the country and if they have any symptoms,” Shah said.
Shah added that the Balochistan government had requested for certain equipment. “I have directed officials to provide all the assistance needed,” he said.
Responding to a question about the shortage of masks in the city and their soaring prices, the chief minister said he was aware of the situation and had asked the authorities to ensure adequate supply of masks to the hospitals.
“We have asked law enforcement agencies to take the masks from vendors and to give them to the Sindh government so that they can be sold at the correct prices,” the chief minister said.
“We will take strict action against the hoarders.”
The chief minister also requested the media to maintain the privacy of patients.
“Confidentiality is key in this matter. Please do not share the details of patients,” he said.
“This is a national emergency and everyone has to take responsibility. I request the media to not create panic or disclose the personal details of patients. I have also contacted the other three chief ministers that we should work together,” he added.
CM Sindh forms task force
Earlier, while chairing an emergency meeting, the chief minister constituted a task force comprising chief secretary, health secretary, commissioner Karachi and other senior officials to deal with the situation.
The chief minister also instructed the health department to make all the necessary equipment available to hospitals to prevent an epidemic.
Moreover, the chief minister was told that isolation wards had been established at different Karachi hospitals to treat patients infected with coronavirus.
The meeting was called after two cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in the country, one in the metropolis on Wednesday night.
Isolation wards have been established at DOW University’s Ojha Campus, Civil Hospital, Lyari Hospital, Mirpur Khas Hospital, PIMS Nawabshah, LUMS Hyderabad, CMCH Larkana, health secretary told the briefing. He added that an emergency cell and task force has also been established.
An Emergency Control Room has also been established at Commissioner House Karachi to deal with any unanticipated situation.
Pakistan confirms first two cases of coronavirus
On Wednesday, Pakistan reported its first two cases of coronavirus, Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza confirmed. “I can confirm first two cases of coronavirus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable,” Dr Mirza wrote on Twitter.
He also noted that there was “no need to panic [as] things are under control”.
The second patient, identified in Islamabad, was shifted to quarantine in the capital’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).
If you are a resident of Sindh and have any information to report or wish to seek help for someone who may have the coronavirus, contact the following numbers.
Telephone nos: 021-99204405, 021-99206565, 021-99203443, 021-99204405
Mobile no: 0316-0111712
Federal govt helpline: 1166