Pakistan starts screening at four major airports for China virus

Move comes to prevent SARS-like coronavirus from entering the country through air travellers


APP January 23, 2020
Medical staff perform screening of passengers on arrival at the Islamabad airport on January 23, 2020. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday started screening passengers at four airports of the country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to screen its passengers at the Beijing airport.

The spread of the pathogen – known by its technical name 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – can cause respiratory diseases in animals, birds and humans.

The SARS-like virus has killed 17 people and infected more than 630 since emerging on December 31 in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Authorities around the world are working to prevent a global pandemic as the virus has also been detected in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the United States.

“In view of the current outbreak of coronavirus in China, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has introduced new screening measures to prevent the virus from entering the country through air travellers,” according to CAA press statement.

Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus

The authority said the measures focused on screening all the passengers coming in from China to Islamabad through 17 weekly flights “for possible symptoms that the deadly virus causes”.

At the Islamabad International Airport, “every passenger from a Chinese flight” will have to pass through health counters set up by the CAA at international arrivals level 2.

A doctor and two paramedics from the government health department will screen the passengers through thermal body scanning machines and thermometers, simultaneously.

In case someone is identified as the virus-carrier, they will be kept in isolation rooms designated by the CAA till their shifting to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) hospital to keep the patient in quarantine.

The CAA has also set up thermal scanner at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore and the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the authority’s chief is vigilant about the spread of coronavirus across Asia.

“[The] NDMA in collaboration with Army Medical Corps, Ministry of Health & relevant stakeholders initiated precautionary measures to keep Pakistan safe from the threat,” the authority tweeted.



(With additional input from News Desk)

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