Safety Message for the Academic Community in Pakistan:
The Health Ministry has confirmed the first two cases of the respiratory illness COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus) in Pakistan. While the Government announcement suggests that the Ministry is in control of the situation, there is a need for universities to redouble their efforts to safeguard the health of their students, faculty, and staff. Since the virus spreads through human contact, universities are particularly vulnerable.
HEC had already issued prudential guidelines in this regard, including a request to designate a senior officer as the focal point for all matters pertaining to the control of the virus, and to share widely the information provided periodically by the Health Ministry.
University communities have expressed a number of concerns because of the speculation around the various unknowns and uncertainties regarding the spread of this virus. Universities are requested access and provide credible and timely information to their campus communities.
Some information is provided below:
- Travel: While the government has not provided any directives in this regard, university faculty, staff, and students may be advised to postpone or avoid discretionary professional or personal travel to countries with high levels of confirmed infections, i.e., China, South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran. In case, the travel cannot be avoided, members of the university communities may kindly be requested to inform the focal point in advance of the travel, and register a cell number so that future information and alerts can be shared expeditiously. Travelers should also be advised to keep their cell phones fully charged and operational, and to check emails and messages every day. Travelers may also be advised to keep a full supply of their essential medicines, in case travel gets interrupted or delayed.
- Precautionary Actions: people can protect yourself the same way you would protect for other viruses with a few common-sense practices:
- Wash hands thoroughly and often, with soap, for 20 seconds. Please make sure to clean between fingers and under nails.
- Avoid shaking hands, especially with those who appear to be ill.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.
- Disinfect shared surfaces, such as doorknobs, bathroom taps, or table tops.
- Stay home when you are sick.
About Novel Corona Virus:
An outbreak of a novel corona virus (2019-nCoV) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. With the rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, the WHO has now declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Early on, most patients most likely had animal-to-person spread, but now indications are that person-to-person spread is occurring. Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet), mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It’s currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Typically, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). With 2019-nCoV, however, there have been reports of spread from an infected asymptomatic patient.