A nurse checks arrangements at coronavirus quarantine ward in Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Administration clears Chinese workers screened for coronavirus in Pakistan

Engineers, technicians gone on holidays to China barred from coming back

Jamil Mirza/imran Asghar January 29, 2020
RAWALPINDI: Amid the global coronavirus scare, the Rawalpindi district administration has completed screening of Chinese nationals who are working on three different projects in the district and found no symptoms of the virus in any of them.

Rawalpindi Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anwaarul Haq said that the health departments screened Chinese engineers and technicians working at Karote Power Project, Azad Patan and Adhi oil fields and found them unaffected from the virus.

Owing to international travel restrictions and curfew in the epicentre of the disease – the Wuhan province of China ¬ the district administration has barred Chinese nationals working on its projects, who had gone home for New Year holidays to come back to work, he said.

Officials fear that the Chinese workers coming back to work might bring the virus to Pakistan and thus told them to stay where they are until the risk of the dreaded virus was completely over.

The administration has taken these otherwise harsh measures because of the highly contagious virus that has claimed 100 lives in China so far.

He added that Punjab government was trying its best to contain virus spread whereas as a precautionary measure, a high dependency unit (HDU) has been established at three government-run hospitals in Rawalpindi including Holy Family Hospital (HFH), Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital. DC assured that all protective measures against the deadly virus have been taken.

Quarantine ward, counters

The Punjab government has established special counters in all three allied hospitals, BBH, HFH and DHQ Hospital. The provincial health required drugs and electro-medical equipment have been provided to the counters.

Besides this, a 25-bed quarantine ward has also been established in BBH where the virus affected patients would be shifted immediately. The doctors, paramedics and related staff have been administered vaccination against the coronavirus.

For inspection of the arrangements, a meeting of medical superintendents was held under the supervision of Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) Vice-Chancellor Dr Muhammad Umar on Tuesday.

The officials were informed that there were no coronavirus patients in any of the allied hospitals. VC directed the officials concerned to inform him immediately if any coronavirus patient was reported in any of the hospitals and instructed implementation on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for contagious diseases.

According to WHO coronaviruses (CoV) cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. The nCoV emerged from the fish market of Wuhan.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2020.


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