Pakistan has discovered its first two cases of novel coronavirus, a public health adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who tweeted on Wednesday days after Islamabad closed its land border with Iran, where 19 people died from the virus.
"I can confirm the first two cases of coronavirus in Pakistan. Both cases are treated according to clinical standard protocols and both are stable. Don't panic, things are under control," health adviser Zafar Mirza tweeted.
A statement by the South Sindh Province Health Department found that the first positive case in Karachi was reported to a 22-year-old man with a "history of traveling to Iran where he acquired the virus".
State media later quoted Mirza as saying that the second case was in "federal areas" – a reference to the capital, Islamabad.
With porous borders, creaking hospitals and large illiteracy, Pakistan is facing a potentially devastating health crisis from the new corona virus.
The virus has spread to more than 30 countries, killing over 2,700 people and infecting 80,000, mainly in China. But new outbreaks in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia have fueled the fear of infection in poor countries that lack the health infrastructure to cope with it.
There is growing fear in Pakistan of how the country would deal with the outbreak. Islamabad has not had infectious diseases such as polio, tuberculosis and hepatitis in the past.
The authorities in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, which borders Iran, have closed all educational institutions.
"We have decided to close all private and government educational institutions because of the security measures," Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind, provincial education minister, told AFP.
With a total of 139 cases and 19 deaths, Iran has now become an important hotspot.
And Afghanistan, which also has a border with Pakistan, reported its first case of coronavirus on Monday.
While Pakistan closed the land borders with Iran, it has maintained air traffic to and from China – increasingly a source of trade and commerce for the country.
"Unfortunately, there is a limited concept of prevention. I'm afraid it's not well prepared for health emergencies at all," Pakistani public health expert Arshad Altaf told AFP.
Pakistan quickly quarantined at least 270 people near the Iranian border this week after a group of pilgrims returned and briefly mixed with other residents.
Ziaullah Langove, Balochistan's interior minister, said there were almost 10,000 Pakistanis left in Iran, mostly students and pilgrims, who wanted to send Iranian officials back in small groups.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)