Wednesday Mar 18, 2020
China has decided to provide Pakistan with testing kits, protective gear and portable ventilators as the country tries to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak.
“China has [also] decided it will provide us with a cash grant to set up a state-of-the-art isolation centre to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the country,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Geo Pakistan.
Qureshi was talking to the TV channel after returning from Beijing. The FM had accompanied President Arif Alvi on their visit to China on the invitation of President Xi Jinping.
“They are ready to help us and have even offered to share their medical expertise to combat the spread,” Qureshi said.
The foreign minister added that one of the main reasons for the visit was to show solidarity with China as the country started returning to normal after the pandemic.
“You cannot imagine the impact of our gesture,” said Qureshi. “The entire Chinese leadership appreciated our efforts, especially our move not to evacuate our students, residents from the country when every other country was.”
“They told us we were the first delegation to visit us since the virus broke out, which re-affirmed our ‘iron brother’ status,” he said.
Speaking about the measures taken by China, especially in Wuhan, Qureshi said the steps taken by Beijing show that the virus can be controlled.
“There was only one reported cases in Wuhan yesterday, which shows that the measures that they had taken were effective. The protocols in place worked,” the foreign minister said.
The Chinese leadership assured us that they stand with us as we stem the outbreak in Pakistan, Qureshi added.
When asked about what measures the country will take to combat the outbreak, Qureshi said there was no need for a uniform approach; instead, Pakistan needs a targeted approach, he said.
“Every province will need to be approached differently. Every province has a different need. We need to take decisions keeping in mind the province,” the foreign minister remarked.
“The measures taken in Wuhan are different than those taken in other provinces since there were more cases of the disease. We need to do the same here in Pakistan. Our main priority right now is to save lives. We have to keep in mind that the measures we take are balanced and do not destroy our economy,” Qureshi said.
“We don’t need a uniformed approach and need to monitor the situation and see what measures we need to take in areas with more pressure,” he said.
Qureshi added that public cooperation was another important factor in stopping the spread of the virus. “If the public had not cooperated [in China] the prevention would not have happened. The public needs to practice social distancing to stop the spread of the virus,” he noted.
He added that he had spoken to Pakistani students that the government had not evacuated and they were happy and had already started working on their thesis.
The foreign minister further said he would go under five-day isolation after his trip to China.
“Before leaving for China we had a swab test done which came back negative,” Qureshi said.
“When we reached China, a blood and swab test was done which also came back negative and only after that we had our meetings. Before leaving, another blood test was conducted whose result will come out today,” Qureshi said.
The foreign minister added that as a precautionary measure, he has decided to go into self-isolation for five days.
“After five days I will do another swab test and if that also comes back negative, I will then go out and interact with people. This is what the experts have suggested and I intend to do it to set an example for others,” he added.