Pakistan's National Institute of Health (NIH) has clarified that there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, but four Chinese nationals have been hospitalised in Multan and Lahore for showing symptoms of the disease. On Saturday, NIH chief Major General Aamer Ikram said a suspected patient had been admitted to the Nishtar Hospital, Multan and kept in the isolation ward after he showed symptoms of the disease including flu, cough and fever, reports The Express Tribune.
"His clinical condition is stable now and its does not seem to be a case of the novel coronavirus," he added.
Samples from the suspected patients have been taken and sent to China for confirmation as there are no laboratories in Pakistan equipped to diagnose the pathogen.
According to sources, the Chinese national travelled from China to Dubai and reached Karachi on January 21. After landing in Karachi, he took a flight to Multan.
In Lahore, three Chinese nationals were admitted to the Services Hospital and shifted to the isolation ward.
According to hospital sources, the suspected patients were residents of the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and had recently arrived in Lahore.
"They came to the hospital complaining of chest pain, fever, flu and cough," a senior doctor at the hospital told The Express Tribune.
"They were shifted to isolation ward and their blood samples were collected. These samples will be sent for confirmation."
According to the Foreign Ministry, there are 28,000 Pakistani students in China. Around 800 Pakistan traders are living in China and 1,500 others frequently travel there.
Over 500 students are studying in Wuhan.
The disease has already spread to a dozen other countries with Canada confirming its first case on Saturday after a patient in Ontario tested positive. The man is said to have travelled from China recently.
Besides Canada, the cases reported outside China were six in Hong Kong; five each in Thailand and Macao; four in Australia; three each in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal and France; two each in Japan, the US and Vietnam.
The death toll due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China has increased to 56, while the number of infected persons were 1,975, the country's National Health Commission said on Sunday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that the spread of the deadly illness was accelerating.