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No confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Pakistan: SAPM

ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Health (NIH) has received 43 samples of suspected novel coronavirus cases, all of which have tested negative.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on NHS Dr Zafar Mirza said on Saturday that there has not been a single confirmed case of novel coronavirus in the country.

He said the NIH has received 43 samples, all of which were negative.

He added that the government was making arrangements to ensure every individual is protected from the virus and is ready to deal with any emergency.

Microbiologist Javed Usman told Dawn that it has been observed that politicians visit airports to look into arrangements in such cases in developing countries.

“Initially, a wrong message was given while Shaukat Aziz was prime minister and cases of dengue were reported. Mr Aziz visited the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) wearing a mask and asked after the health of a patient who was suffering from dengue,” he said.

“No one had told the former premier that dengue was not a respiratory disease. On the other hand, I remember when Princess Diana had children suffering with AIDS sitting in her lap; that sent a very positive message across the globe,” he said.

“We have a very professional body – the NIH – and NCV should be left to the NIH, which is being run by professional people. Unfortunately, whenever such issues arise professional people are placed on the backburner and politicians start leading them,” he said.

In a similar instance, former chief minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif used to lead the anti-dengue programme.

Mr Usman said that more than 31,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus and around 750 have died, most of them in China.

“Although that is a huge number, NCV is not as dangerous as Ebola, which initially had a 100pc death rate and then it was reduced to 70pc. So there is no need to panic,” he said.

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