(Parents and relatives of Pakistani medical students studying in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus began, hold placards during a protest in Lahore to demand the government evacuate their loved ones.)[Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty/Kyodo]

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan authorities said Wednesday that they have confirmed the country's first coronavirus infections and have placed two individuals in isolation wards at hospitals in Karachi.

"I can confirm first two cases of corona virus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable," Pakistan's health minister Zafar Mirza said in a tweet.

Both individuals were residents of Karachi. One had gone to neighboring Iran on Feb. 6 and returned to Karachi on Feb. 20.

Pakistan has already closed the border for all travelers to and from Iran.

In Iran, the death toll from the pneumonia-causing disease reached 19 as of Wednesday, the largest after China.

Large numbers of Shiite Muslims in the region visit shrines in Iran. Authorities in both Pakistan and Iran have set up quarantines for pilgrims.

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