Image for representational purposes (Photo Credit: File Image)
Pakistan witnessed a sudden increase in coronavirus cases as the number of patients rose to 18, officials said on Tuesday. All the new cases were reported from Sindh province -- 10 in provincial capital Karachi and one in Hyderabad, officials said. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, in a morning update, said nine new cases were identified in Karachi, capital of Sindh province.
"I can confirm 9 new cases of #COVID19 in Karachi? This makes a total of 16 cases in Pakistan,” Mirza said. He said that “all these cases are contacts of an already confirmed case" and authorities were testing more people who were in contact with the infected people. In the evening, media coordinator to the Sindh Health Minister Meeran Yousuf updated the total number of cases by two more.
"The first case is from Hyderabad and the patient arrived from Syria via Doha. The second case is from Karachi and the patient arrived from Iran via Dubai," she tweeted. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah asked all hospitals to share the record of patients with the symptoms of pneumonia to further investigate them.
The Sindh Health Department on Monday night said one new case surfaced in Karachi but Mirza announced after midnight that nine cases were identified. According to officials, five of the new patients came to Karachi from Syria via Doha while three persons came from London via Dubai during the past week.
Meeran Yousuf said authorities were trying to track down all their contacts for further testing in order to contain spread of the virus. The Pakistan government has decided to extend the partial closure of the border with Afghanistan by another seven days.
So far, no coronavirus related death has been reported in Pakistan. One of the COVID-19 patients in Karachi has recovered and was allowed to go home on Saturday last week. The virus that first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has claimed over 4,000 lives and infected more than 110,000 across 100 nations and territories.
The World Health Organisation last week raised the global virus risk to maximum level after the outbreak spread to sub-Saharan Africa and stock markets around the world plummeted.