Wednesday Feb 26, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Coronavirus would not come to Pakistan if those travelling to China were not allowed to return to the country, Gwadar Port Authority Chairperson Naseer Khan Kashani said Wednesday.
Addressing members of the Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs, Kashani said Gwadar Port had banned people who have travelled to China — where the virus originated and has killed more than 2,700 — from returning to Pakistan over fears of coronavirus entering the country.
More than 80,000 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus so far, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with most in China — above 78,000.
"Some Chinese nationals returned to China during the New Year's holidays; however, they will not be allowed to return to Pakistan," Kashani added.
"When people who travelled to China will not return, coronavirus will not come to Pakistan," he said. "We have made it clear that those who went to China will not come back to Pakistan for the time being."
The Gwadar Port chair was responding to Mohammad Aslam Bhootani — an independent MNA and member of the standing committee — who had asked about measures were taken at the harbour in light of coronavirus.
Bhootani had asked: "Ships come from China to Gwadar Port. What arrangements are there considering the coronavirus fears?"
Secretary Maritime Affairs Rizwan Ahmed also responded to the MNA's question, saying the federal health department had posted its workers at the seaport in southern Balochistan. They "have been provided all necessary items in this regard", he said.
"The Chinese company are making arrangements" as well, Ahmed added, noting that crews from any ship arriving from China to Pakistan would not be allowed to disembark.
PTI MNA Abdul Shakoor Shad, also a member of the committee, observed that the epidemic had spread to Iran and that "people illegally cross into Balochistan from Iran".