Pakistan confirms first two cases of coronavirus

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People wearing protective facemasks walk out from a Pakistan-based Chinese company in Islamabad on Jan. 30, 2020, after instructions from Pakistani authorities to take preventive measures against the coronavirus. — AFP

KARACHI — Pakistan has detected its first two cases of novel coronavirus, a public health advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted Wednesday, days after Islamabad closed its land border with Iran, where 19 people have died from the virus.

"I can confirm first two cases of corona virus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable. No need to panic, things are under control", tweeted health advisor Zafar Mirza.

A statement issued by the southern Sindh province's health department stated that the first positive case was reported in Karachi in a 22-year-old male with a "history of travel to Iran where he has acquired the virus."

Officials did not confirm where the second case was reported.

Mirza said he would hold a press conference on Thursday on Pakistan's new cases.

With porous borders, creaking hospitals and large illiterate populations, Pakistan faces a potentially devastating health crisis from the new coronavirus.

The virus has spread to more than 30 countries, killing over 2,700 and infecting 80,000, mostly in China. But new outbreaks in Europe, the Middle East and in Asia have fanned fears of the contagion taking hold in poor nations which lack the healthcare infrastructure to cope.

Islamabad has a history of failing to contain infectious diseases such as polio, tuberculosis and hepatitis. — AFP


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