Pakistan reveals 'Action Plan' as coronavirus cases jump to four

Pakistan reveals 'Action Plan' as coronavirus cases jump to four
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan, right, speaks during a press briefing in Islamabad on Feb. 29, 2020. (PID)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Pakistan reveals 'Action Plan' as coronavirus cases jump to four

Pakistan reveals 'Action Plan' as coronavirus cases jump to four
  • Both newly diagnosed individuals had recently returned from Iran, says Sindh health spokesperson
  • Government has formed a committee to raise awareness through media campaign, says Firdous Ashiq Awan

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan’s State Minister for Health unveiled a ‘National Action Plan’ to deal with the coronavirus outbreak in the country, and confirmed two more cases of the disease in Pakistan during a press conference on Saturday-- taking the total tally of cases in the country to four. 
“We received reports of two more coronavirus positive cases in Pakistan. One case is in Sindh and other is in federal areas,” Dr. Zafar Mirza said during a joint press conference with Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on information, Firdous Ashiq Awan.
“Both patients which were reported positive earlier are recovering and one of them will be discharged from hospital in the next few days,” he said, while appealing to the media to respect the privacy of patients.
On Wednesday, the first two positive infections of coronavirus were reported in Pakistan, both in persons who had recently arrived from Iran. According to a spokesperson of the Sindh Health department, Meeran Yousuf, the latest additions to the tally also had recent ties to neighboring Iran, where numbers of infected persons have soared in recent days and the death toll has clocked in at the highest of any country outside China. At least one of the new cases in Pakistan has emerged in an individual in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, Yousuf said.
The government’s “National Action Plan” against coronavirus would involve full coordination with provinces to deal with the viral outbreak, Mirza said, and added some hospitals in every province would be dedicated to patients inflicted with the disease.
“We have decided to increase manpower in hospitals and asked chief secretaries to address all deficiencies in health units in respective provinces,” he said.
All entry points to Pakistan would also be under more stringent surveillance he added, “so that any persons coming from affected countries can be quarantined for further tests.”
On Pakistani pilgrims stranded in Iran, Mirza said a comprehensive plan for their return from Iran had been drawn out, which involved more effective screening. 
“They will be allowed to enter from land border but the flights between Iran and Pakistan will remain suspended. We will review the situation and then decide about opening flight operations,” he said.
SAPM on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government had formed a three-member committee to raise awareness about preventive measures from coronavirus through a media campaign coordinated by members from the health ministry, information ministry and the military’s media wing ISPR. 
“They will plan and execute national awareness campaign through all media platforms,” she said.
Additionally, she said facilities to diagnose the disease had been provided in Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, and the national action plan to battle the coronavirus would be presented before the cabinet for approval on Tuesday. 
"Public should avoid spreading panic,” she said. “Do not be afraid of the coronavirus, rather fight it,” Awan said.