ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr. Zafar Mirza has on Thursday reconfirmed that no case of coronavirus has been reported yet in Pakistan.
Dr. Zafar Mirza chaired a meeting of Coronavirus Emergency Core Group in Islamabad. The SAPM said comprehensive planning has been made to cope with coronavirus and told he is personally monitoring the screening system at airports.
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“All possible steps are being ensured to deal with coronavirus and we are ready to tackle any emergency situation in this regard. An emergency operation cell established at the health ministry is overviewing the situation.
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“Separate wards have been arranged at hospitals concerning possible cases of coronavirus. The federal government has taken effective measures in collaboration with the provinces to handle coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have warned that they face an acute shortage of hospital beds and equipment needed to treat a growing number of patients stricken by the new coronavirus, as the death toll passed 560 on Thursday and cities far from the epicentre tightened their defences.
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The number of confirmed infections rose to more than 28,000 nationwide in an outbreak that has spiralled into a global health emergency with cases reported in more than 20 countries.
Among the cases was a newborn baby, diagnosed just 30 hours after being born.
Despite authorities building a hospital from scratch and converting public buildings to accommodate thousands of extra patients, there was still a “severe” lack of beds, said Hu Lishan, an official in Wuhan, the quarantined city where the virus first appeared — and where doctors are now overwhelmed with cases.
There was also a shortage of “equipment and materials”, he told reporters, adding that officials were looking to convert other hotels and schools in the city into treatment centres.
A growing number of cities have imposed a range of restrictions far from Hubei, as authorities battle to contain the virus.
Tens of millions of people, from the eastern industrial heartlands to near the northern border with Russia, have been told to stay indoors as authorities battle to curb the outbreak.
Global concerns have risen after the World Health Organisation declared an international health emergency last week.
The WHO called for $675 million in donations for a plan to fight the novel coronavirus, mainly through investment in countries considered particularly “at risk”.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to commit up to $100 million.
New cases emerged abroad, with 10 people testing positive for the virus on a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan with thousands on board.
Also in Japan, the chief executive of the Tokyo Olympics set for later this year admitted organisers were “extremely worried” about how the virus could affect the Summer Games, but the International Olympic Committee urged calm.
Italy announced that passengers from every international flight would be scanned for fevers, while Vietnam joined a growing list of countries banning arrivals from China.
Hong Kong, which reported its first coronavirus death this week, said anyone arriving from the mainland would face a mandatory two-week quarantine from Saturday.