KARACHI: Pakistan health and aviation authorities have taken “precautionary measures” to counter the global swine flu epidemic threat, officials said Tuesday. Pervez George, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told AFP.
“We have taken precautionary measures at all our international airports to check passengers coming from swine flu affected countries,”
Doctors from the CAA and the health ministry have been engaged to check incoming passengers and allow entry only to those with no flu symptoms. “Our teams have effectively started functioning from today and are checking every passenger as he or she lands at our international airports,” Afzal Bughio, the CAA’s chief medical officer.
“We have a quarantine facility at Karachi airport while major hospitals in all the big cities are on high alert,” Bughio said. Anyone suspected of showing swine flu symptoms would be quarantined, Bughio said. Around two million Pakistanis live in the Americas, Europe and other countries where swine flu epidemic has appeared, visit Pakistan in large numbers every week.
Birjees Mazhar Kazi, executive director of Pakistan’s National Institute of Health, said the preventive measures had been taken in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. “Countrywide preventive measures have been taken in response to the global alert by the WHO,” he said. “We are constantly in touch with the WHO to get updates on swine flu,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has alerted medical staff at entry points, including air- and seaports, to check any suspected cases of swine flu, which has become a pandemic in many countries of the world, Director General (Health) Professor Rashid Juma told.
Professor Juma, when asked about the availability of the diagnostic facilities in the country, said two types of facilities were needed for proper diagnosis of swine flue, antibody testing and virus testing. The facility for the former is readily available in Pakistan, while samples would have to be sent to other countries for analysis for the latter.
Dr Waseem Khawaja, spokesman for the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said the swine flu virus is curable if treated quickly with antiviral medicine, yet no one is naturally immune. He said human-to-human infections could occur in the same way the human seasonal flu virus is transmitted – through coughing, sneezing and coming in contact with a person or object harbouring the virus. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of the regular human influenza virus, which include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and severe coughing. Some who have been infected with the swine flu have also reported to having a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, he added.