Pakistanis can return from China after 14-day watch

KP reports suspected coronavirus case. SAPM says no confirmed case has surfaced until now. Test kits arriving from China today. CEPC workers show no sign of infection

By: News Desk
Published: 05:54 PM, 1 Feb, 2020
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Pakistan will not evacuate its citizens from China until they expire a 14-day incubation period as per Chinese policy, the government announced Saturday.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported a “suspected case” of coronavirus in Swabi the same day, though a top national health official said that no case of deadly virus has been confirmed in the country until now.

Pakistan is already fully geared and taking all possible curb-and-control measures to ward off the epidemic, which broke out in Wuhan city of China.

Special medical kits for confirming or ruling out any case will be arriving today (Saturday), Special Adviser of PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza told media in Islamabad.

The country has already conducted basic tests of almost all the Chinese nationals and Pakistanis working along with them on CPEC related projects and luckily none of them has shown any symptoms of infection.

Strict screening of all passengers coming to Pakistan is being carried out for the last few days, while flights to and from China remain suspended.

Authorities have also made it binding on incoming air travellers to submit a health declaration to minimise chances of the import of the dangerous virus.

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokeswoman said on Saturday that fight crews will distribute health declaration cards among all passengers to get contact details and brief travel details of the passengers. Without the provision of these details, no one will be allowed to enter Pakistan, she added.

As for the suspected case of coronavirus infection, it was reported from Saidu Group of Teaching Hospital (SGTH) in Swat on Saturday.

Medicine Department of the SGTH has been assigned to prepare a clinical report of the suspected patient.

A 10-bed isolation ward has also been set up at the hospital. DHO and senior doctors are continuously monitoring the situation.

Dr Mirza’s Press Talk

SAPM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Saturday said that they had kept four to five people under observation but they haven’t tested positive for the virus.

Four Pakistani students in Wuhan tested positive for the virus, he said, adding that because they were diagnosed early, they’re recovering.

Dr Mirza reiterated that Pakistan, being a responsible country, will not bring its citizens back from China in line with the World Health Organisation guidelines and the Chinese Government’s policy.

He also said that Pakistanis will not be allowed to leave China unless they pass a 14-day incubation period and test negative for the coronavirus.

China, a close friend of Pakistan, is able to better treat anyone infected with the virus, he said. Pakistan has complete faith in China’s government and public healthcare system, he added.

The steps Chinese are taking are to make safer their own people, foreigners in their country and the rest of the world, he said.

Other countries are bringing their people back and there are viral videos of students in Wuhan raising issues, he admitted.

Till now, seven to eight countries have either evacuated their citizens or requested evacuations, he said. But China has said it is not right to evacuate people as per public health safety protocol, he added.

Dr Mirza said that one should not forget that the residents of 120 countries are still in Wuhan. Those countries are indirectly supporting China’s measures, he said.

“I spoke to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday and we concluded that the steps we have taken are correct,” he said.

China has told Pakistan that because of the bond between the two countries, it is ready to take special care of the students and other citizens there, said Dr Mirza.

He said Pakistan will be receiving the kits needed to confirm or rule out coronavirus cases tonight. “We can keep Pakistanis safe from this virus,” he said, outlining the basics of a plan to screen people coming from China.