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Wednesday Feb 12 2020
Web Desk

Pakistan expresses concern over reports of coronavirus facility being set up near student campus in China

Web Desk
 Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza. Photo: File

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Wednesday said that reports of an isolation facility for coronavirus being set up near the Pakistani students university in China were concerning.

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Health meeting presided over by Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi was briefed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on the situation of the Pakistani students in Wuhan.

The committee was told that there were 620 Pakistani students in Wuhan. “We are in contact with all the students. Zulfi Bukhari and I spoke to 16 students yesterday. The students are concerned and this concern has grown in the last few days over reports of those affected by the coronavirus being kept near a university where the students are studying.”

“Not a single case coronavirus has been reported in Pakistan,’ Mirza told the committee. “All preparations are in place in Pakistan for coronavirus.”

He added additional steps have been put in place at the Islamabad Airport to counter the virus.

Mirza further told the committee that Pakistanis were being taken care of in Wuhan. “There has not been an increase in the number of Pakistanis suffering from the virus. Flight operations from China to Pakistan have not been suspended. These steps were taken after taking a look at the risks,” he said.

“I warned about the virus on January 23. The Chinese government is not allowing anyone to leave Wuhan,” SAPM Mirza said. 

Read also: Coronavirus death toll passes 1,000

“Flights from China are coming to Lahore and Islamabad. There is control over some flights,” Mirza said, stating that there is an agreement with the Chinese government that everyone coming from the country would be kept under observation for 14 days.

“We have tested samples from 57 people,” Mirza said. “All of them signed a declaration form and gave their contact information and were then allowed to leave.”

Mirza said they have contacted Chinese officials to move the patients somewhere. “There is no danger to our students from those in the isolation ward,” he said.

He added that the masses in Pakistan were being informed about the coronavirus through messages by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

PM directs foreign secretary to stay in contact with Pakistanis in Wuhan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday had directed Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood to stay in constant contact with Pakistanis in Wuhan and that their families in Pakistan be kept informed about the well-being of their children.

According to reports, at least 1,000 Pakistani students are in China’s Hubei province, thought to be the epicentre of the coronavirus, who have been told by their government that it has had to rule out their return home for the moment.

The number of deaths from China's new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday.

Read also: PM Imran directs foreign secretary to stay in contact with Pakistanis in Wuhan

In a video conference call between students and health and overseas citizens ministers on Monday afternoon, Mirza had said the government was fully monitoring the situation in China.

“Let me assure you that we are fully alive to your predicament. We will have a detailed meeting with the Chinese Ambassador and are analyzing the situation from all perspectives,” he said.

Mirza had added a decision would be taken that would be in the best interest of the students, citizens, and Pakistan, reported The News.

Dr Zafar further told the students, “I am deeply concerned about your well-being. I have special instructions from the prime minister to ensure that you all are looked after. We are taking all possible measures to ease things for you. The governments of Pakistan and China, as well as our Embassy in Beijing, will continue to support and stand by you.”