Parents' protest mars govt briefing on students stranded in China

Dr Mirza assures protesters of taking up matter in tomorrow's cabinet meeting

By: News Desk      Published: 03:45 PM, 19 Feb, 2020
Parents' protest mars govt briefing on students stranded in China
Parents and relatives of Pakistani students in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus began, hold mobile phones during a video call with them during a protest to demand their evacuation, in Islamabad on Wednesday.–AFP

A briefing arranged by the government for the families of the Pakistanis stranded in China for taking them into confidence over government measures fell a victim to a strong protest by the parents demanding their children be immediately brought back.      

Ministry for Overseas Pakistanis had arranged the briefing at Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) Girls College Islamabad on Wednesday.

The purpose of the briefing was to allay the fears of the citizens, especially the parents of the students who are stuck in China amid the coronavirus outbreak, by updating them on the latest situation.

Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari and SAPM on National Health Services Zafar Mirza were present at the briefing where the relatives

of the stranded Pakistanis started a protest.

They demanded the authorities bring their loved ones back as soon as possible, instead of "telling them stories".

SAPM Zafar Mirza assured the protesters that he will take up the matter of bringing the stranded Pakistanis back in the cabinet meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday)

Earlier the same day, Dr Zafar Mirza said that there were no reported cases of coronavirus in Pakistan.

Chairing a meeting of Coronavirus Emergency Core Group here, he said the National Institution for Health (NIH) had received 89 samples, which have tested to be negative.

He further maintained that a National Action Plan (NAP) is being fully implemented to keep the country safe from the coronavirus, and the core group is constantly monitoring the situation.

Dr Mirza also said separate rooms have been allocated in 18 hospitals nationwide.

He also said a strong mechanism has been put in place at all airports to ensure proper screening of passengers travelling from other parts of the world, adding that 400,000 people have been screened so far.

Federal secretary health executive director NIH, Pakistan Army representatives and other experts were present during the meeting.

The death toll from China’s new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 2,000 on Wednesday after 136 more people died, with the number of new cases falling for a second straight day, according to the National Health Commission.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 74,185.

The death toll rose to 2,004 with most of the deaths in central Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December before spiralling into a nationwide epidemic.

In its daily update, the National Health Commission reported 1,749 new cases of people infected with the virus nationwide, the lowest number of new cases this month.