Pakistan confirms first two cases of coronavirus, in travellers from Iran: Minister

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Karachi (Reuters) – Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, in patients who had recently travelled to Iran, officials said.

One of the patients, who tested positive in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, had spent three days in the Iranian holy city of Qom along with a group of 28 pilgrims, before returning on Feb. 20, a provincial official said.

“We are locating the other members of the group so they can be put in an isolation ward,” Murtaza Wahab, adviser to the chief minister of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, told Reuters.

Health Minister Zafar Mirza told reporters the second patient, from the capital Islamabad, had also returned from Iran.

“Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable. No need to panic, things are under control,” Mirza tweeted.

Pakistan closed its border with Iran on Sunday following the outbreak in the neighbouring country. Nineteen people have died and 139 people have been infected by the coronavirus in Iran.

More than 200 Pakistani Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims are being kept in a makeshift quarantine facility at the border. The authorities in the Pakistani border region of Balochistan have closed all educational institutions until March 15, as a preventive measure.