Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed the first two deaths from the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Both deaths were reported in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, one in its capital Peshawar and the other in Mardan district.
The first victim was a 50-year-old man who recently returned to Mardan after performing the Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
In a tweet, Pakistan’s State Minister for Health Zafar Mirza said the man “developed fever, cough, and breathing difficulty” after coming to Pakistan and tested positive for COVID-19.
He said the victim’s family members and other people he came into contact with were being screened.
The second victim was a 36-year-old man from KP’s Hangu district, who passed away at a hospital in Peshawar.
The minister said the man had recently come back to Pakistan from Dubai.
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Cases on the rise
The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan rose to 304, with 208 in the southern Sindh province alone, officials said on Wednesday.
Health officials said new cases were reported in KP, Sindh, and the northeastern Punjab province.
Most of the new patients had recently returned from neighboring Iran, which has the highest number of cases and deaths after China and Italy.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the nation of a possible spread of the virus in the country, if people did not "act responsibly”.
"The virus will spread in the country as the countries with better facilities than us could not contain it. But there is no need to panic. Together we will face and live up to this challenge", Khan said in televised address.
The virus emerged in Wuhan, China, last December, and has spread to at least 164 countries and territories around the globe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO has declared the outbreak a pandemic and its data showed there were over 194,000 confirmed cases and nearly 7,900 deaths around the world by Wednesday evening.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is not fatal in all cases and a vast majority of patients do fully recover.