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Depts, army team up against coronavirus threat in KP

PESHAWAR: All the line departments and Pakistan Army have teamed up to counter the threats posed by the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the neighbouring China, according to officials.

They said that a meeting called after the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government declared emergency and invoked Public Health (Surveillance and Response) Act, 2017, was informed that all the departments must work in coordination to prevent the epidemic.

A man was admitted to a hospital in Swabi after symptoms were found and his specimen was sent to National Institute of Health Islamabad.

Official said that so far, six suspected patients were tested negative and they were monitored by the respective health authorities every two days.

Suspected patient admitted to Swabi hospital

A meeting of the public health committee was held with Health Secretary Yahya Akhunzada in the chair to formulate a coordinated response along with all line departments to combat the emergency situation. The meeting decided to start reporting of suspected cases from all public and private hospitals on daily basis.

Simulation exercise of shifting of suspected patient from Peshawar airport to Police and Services Hospital under supervision of experts from NIH and health department and distribution of personal protective equipment was started to high risk districts.

Officials said that globally confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus reached 24,554 with 492 deaths recorded. Outside China, there are 191 confirmed cases spreading over the region of 24 countries but Pakistan has been safe from the virus. It was decided that no laxity would be shown in efforts to prevent the epidemic in the country.

The health department has also issued guidelines to the district and tertiary care hospitals about management of the suspected cases and measures to avoid its transmission.

The department has asked people to avoid close contact with the patients suffering from acute respiratory infection and wash their hands frequently, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.

“People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should cover their coughing and sneezing with disposable tissue and practice hand washing afterwards and if have a tissue, then cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands,” it said.

The people have also been advised to avoid frequent travel and joining crowds to stay safe from the infection. Additionally, the within healthcare facilities enhance standard infection, prevention and control practices should be put in place.

The World Health Organisation has been extending technical support to the government to prevent the occurrence of the epidemic.

Dr Tahir Nadeem Khan, the director-general health, said that suspected cases were reported from Bajaur, Lower Dir, Swabi, Mardan and Peshawar districts. Samples sent to the NIH were found negative. About 2,335 passengers have been screened at Bacha Khan International Airport during the last 12 hours. They were sent home after symptoms weren’t detected.

“The situation is completely under control but we are taking precautionary measures to prevent the virus’ attack,” he said. The director-general health said that people shouldn’t pay heed to rumours and focus on the advice of the health department to stay protected.

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