KARACHI: In a shocking development, nine people who recently returned from abroad were tested positive for novel coronavirus in Karachi on Monday, pushing the tally to 13 in Sindh and 16 in the country.
The Sindh Health Department said that of nine new cases, five people have arrived from Syria via Doha whereas other patients returned from London via Dubai last week.
“The health department is in the process of tracking down all the contacts for further testing,” an official statement said.
So far 16 Pakistanis have been tested positive for COVID-19, the mysterious viral pneumonia-like disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Thirteen of them belong to Sindh while one has already fully recovered and discharged from the hospital in Karachi.
Dr Zafar Mirza, the de facto health minister, also confirmed the development from his official Twitter handle.
“I can confirm 9 new cases of COVID-19 in Karachi. All these cases are contacts of an already confirmed case. Further contacts are being traced and tested. This makes a total of 16 cases in Pakistan,” he tweeted.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed all government and private hospitals to share details of patients with symptoms of pneumonia so that their further medical investigations could be conducted to ensure that they have not contracted the mysterious disease.
Dr Mirza on Sunday confirmed that 4th patient was tested positive for the contagious disease in the provincial capital.
Sindh CM directs hospitals to share data of patients with symptoms of pneumonia
The new case has emerged as all educational institutions in Sindh have been closed till March 13 over fears of the contagious disease’s outbreak in the province.
The mysterious COVID-19 virus, which originated in a vet market of the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has since then spread to more than 100 countries of the world, killing over 3,500 and infecting around 110,000, mostly in China thus far.
But new outbreaks in Europe, the Middle East and in Asia have fanned fears of the contagion taking hold in poor nations that lack the healthcare infrastructure to cope.
There are growing fears in Pakistan — sandwiched between China and Iran, both hotspots for the disease — over how the country would deal with the outbreak.