While Pakistan government urged its citizens to stay calm, panic surged among locals as the fifth case of coronavirus infection in the country was confirmed on Tuesday. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza confirmed the latest case of COVID-19 infection in Pakistan.
"We have now fifth confirmed case of COVID-19 in federal areas. Patient is stable and is being managed well," Mirza said.
Mirza asked media to not spread details of identity and whereabouts of the coronavirus patient. He also urged the people to not panic.
National Institute of Health (NIH) confirmed that the patient is a 45-year-old woman from Gilgit Baltistan area of the Northern region of the country. She had recently arrived from Iran. After being tested positive for coronavirus, she was moved to a hospital for treatment. Officials added that family members of the woman are also being tested for the deadly virus.
Apart from the latest case from Gilgit Baltistan, at least two cases have been reported from Karachi, while one has been reported from the federal areas and Islamabad. This has raised alarm among locals, who are now rushing to buy masks to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
Authorities say that all coronavirus patients had traveled to Iran in the near past, where over 66 people have already died, including senior government officials. Over 1,500 confirmed cases have also been reported in the country.
As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe with casualties being reported from different countries, Pakistan has decided to close the Chaman border with Afghanistan for at least one week to check the spread of virus from the neighbouring country. As per the Federal Ministry of Interior, Pakistan will keep its border closed for at aleast seven days from March 2.
This is the second border that Pakistan has closed amid the coronavirus outbreak. Border with Iran was closed one week ago, after cases of COVID-19 emerged at the Iranian side. Afghan border has been closed after three confirmed cases were reported from western province of Herat.
Strict precautionary measures have also been put in place around borders areas to stop the spread of the virus. Isolation wards have also been made in hospitals. On the Taftan-Iran border, Pakistan has already setup a 100-bed hospital, where people coming from Iran are being screened and quarantined, if needed.
As per officials, at least 10,000 people have undergone screening in the last five days at the Chaman border alone. Similar numbers have been reported from the Torkham border with Afghanistan too.
On the Iranian border, at least 510 pilgrims from Iran were under quarantine at the Pakistan House. Moreover, Balochistan province's health official said that at least 252 other pilgrims, traveling from Iran to Pakistan were kept under quarantine for 15 days and have now been declared free from the coronavirus.
Pakistan has also set up special screening units at airports. All flight operations with Iran stand suspended.