ISLAMABAD: A new case of suspected novel coronavirus has surfaced in Multan taking the overall tally of deadly China virus in Pakistan to five, The Express Tribune learnt on Sunday.
According to sources in the health ministry, two samples from Multan have been sent to Hong Kong for confirmation as there are no laboratories in Pakistan equipped to diagnose the pathogen. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) received the samples last night, they added.
One of the two suspected coronavirus patients in Multan is a Pakistani national, said the sources.
On Saturday, NIH chief Major General Dr Aamer Ikram said a Chinese national had been admitted to the Nishtar Hospital, Multan and kept in the isolation ward after he showed symptoms of the disease including flu, cough and fever.
Test reports are expected to arrive in the next 24 to 48 hours. The patients will receive necessary treatment based on the results of test reports.
According to sources, the Chinese national, hospitalised in Multan, travelled from China to Dubai and reached Karachi on January 21. After landing in Karachi, he took a flight to Multan.
Three Chinese nationals were also admitted to Lahore’s Services Hospital and shifted to the isolation ward on Saturday.
According to hospital sources, the suspected patients were residents of the Chinese city of Wuhan and had recently arrived in Lahore.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has confirmed that all Pakistanis in Wuhan, and in other parts of China, are safe.
China has expanded drastic travel restrictions to contain the viral contagion that has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000, as the United States and France prepared to evacuate their citizens from a quarantined city at the outbreak’s epicentre.
China has locked down the hard-hit province of Hubei in the country’s centre in an unprecedented operation affecting tens of millions of people to slow the spread of a respiratory illness that President Xi Jinping said posed a “grave” threat.
Originating in Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, the virus has spread throughout China and around the world, with cases confirmed in around a dozen countries as distant as France, Australia and the United States.
The World Health Organisation puts the number of confirmed cases reported from mainland China at 1,975. “This includes 324 severe cases and 56 people who have died,” the WHO added.
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