ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza has Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) is expediting preventive measures in wake of coronavirus, directing to establish surveillance system with quarantined areas at all ports and entry points.

Dr. Zafar Mirza reviewed the situation while presiding over a high-level meeting of Ministry of NIH here on Friday, which was participated by heads of federal hospitals and health institutions.

Dr. Zafar Mirza said that in wake of coronavirus cases in China, Pakistan was taking urgent pre-emptive measures to deal with the situation.

He directed to expedite the establishment of a robust surveillance system at all ports of entry before February 8, 2020 with quarantined areas.

The SAPM monitored the situation in the Emergency Operations Centre established in the ministry, saying that a helpline to be established by next week for provision of information on the disease to the general public and health-care providers.

SAPM also stressed to accelerate the steps required for public awareness and education related to the symptoms of the disease, preparedness level, mitigation and response in case of any emergency.

Dr. Zafar Mirza directed that Thermo Guns be made available to screen passengers in addition to Thermo scanners.

The SAPM further directed that the NIH should act as a hub where all information should be updated. The meeting was informed that there are at present 890 reported cases of coronavirus with 26 deaths.

“In addition to a beefed up surveillance mechanism and public awareness, all Provincial Chief Ministers are being advocated to notify a focal person to coordinate with point of entry staff and manage suspected cases of coronavirus infection. NDMA is also taken on board to support in case of any emergency,” the meeting was informed.

This outbreak started in the month of December 2019, as a mysterious cluster of respiratory illnesses in China by 450 confirmed infected cases has been reported. It has spread to five other countries; Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, United State. Initially this virus spread in human form wild animals and fish at a Wuhan seafood market, now human to human transmission has also been observed.

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) raising concerns on outbreak of the virus said that it was a serious disease like SARS and causes upper respiratory tract infection.

If the symptoms of the infection are not treated properly, this can lead to lower respiratory tract infection, laryngitis, bronchitis, lungs infection and finally pneumonia, which could become fatal for the patients.

The PMA said: “There is big number of Pakistani students and businessmen along with so many Chinese coming to Pakistan every day, so we are more at risk of getting coronavirus through human contact.”