Pakistan now capable to diagnose Coronavirus: Zafar

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has now acquired coronavirus testing kits, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Dr Zafar Mirza said in a Twitter statement on Sunday.
“Alhamdolilah, as of today we have now capability of diagnosing #Coronarivus in Pakistan,” he said, applauding the National Institute of Health (NIH) leadership and team for their “hard work in securing the reagent for diagnosing.” In a statement earlier on Jan 24, Dr Zafar Mirza had said samples of suspected cases will be sent to international labs for testing. He said specific virology labs have the necessary equipment to diagnose such viral diseases.
The SAPM said samples would be referred to labs of three countries, including China and Holland until the labs with the facility to detect the coronavirus are established in the country. He had assured that the facility will be made available in two weeks. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced on Sunday that Pakistan was now capable of detecting the novel coronavirus with the arrival of at least 1,000 testing kits from China.
Taking to Twitter, the PM’s aide lauded National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad officials for their hard work in securing the reagent for diagnosing the virus which was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Jan 31.
The PM’s aide added that booths have also been set up at airports to provide information about coronavirus. “Health information booths have been set up at airports to provide answers to queries about #Coronarivus and disseminate important standardised info materials.”
He added that guidelines for clinical care and prevention as well official airport guidelines for coronavirus have also been issued. Speaking to newsmen, NIH public health labs chief Dr Muhammad Salman said that the tests reached Pakistan early Sunday morning.
He maintained that approximately 1,000 kits have been brought to Pakistan from China. Commenting on how the kits worked, the official explained that it was a PCR-based (polymerase chain reaction) test which will be used to isolate the genome of the virus.
He stated that for now, the testing for the virus will be carried out at the NIH in Islamabad but will later be expanded to other cities depending on the need. “Samples collected from across the country will be sent to NIH where they will be tested.