Chinese flights will restart coming to Pakistan from Feb 3 and all passengers coming from China will go through screening tests at all airports to detect symptoms of coronavirus.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza disclosed this during a briefing to National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Health on Friday. He said that after a break of a few weeks, Chinese flights would restart coming to Pakistan from Monday.
Dr Mirza, however, said that there was no need for panic as the health ministry along with all other departments concerned had been “vigorously” working to handle this issue.
He said there was no serious role of coronavirus outbreak in halting Chinese flight operation as the flights were already not coming to Pakistan because of New Year celebrations in China. He, however, said that later because of this outbreak they took more time in restarting the operation.
The SAPM said there was quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which was epicentre of the deadly disease. He said that 60 million people had been kept in quarantine in Wuhan to avoid spread of the virus.
He said that before boarding flights in China, passengers would face exit-screening and when they reach Pakistan, “we will also conduct their screening”. He said it was difficult to detect the patents suffering from coronavirus without conducting laboratory tests, but passengers suffering from high fever would be isolated for their proper tests. He said the government had decided to keep all Chinese nationals under observation for 14 days.
Mr Mirza said that 538 Pakistani students were also in Wuhan and the Pakistani government was in constant touch with the Chinese authorities.
He said that at the moment there was no plan to evacuate Pakistani students from China.
“As of today, there is no plan,” he said, adding that there were two major reasons for not bringing these Pakistani students back to Pakistan.
Mr Mirza said the mortality rate was only 2.2 per cent and majority of the patients were recovering.
Giving rationale behind the decision of not bringing back Pakistanis from China, he said the World Health Organisation had already advised member countries not to do massive evacuation to avoid spread of virus across the world.
He said that coronavirus was level III category, which spread drastically. The SAPM claimed that Chinese had been providing best health facilities to Pakistanis, so it had been decided not to evacuate Pakistanis.
He admitted that Pakistani health facilities were not as advanced as those in China.
Mr Mirza said the departments concerned had been holding meetings to give final touches to standard operating procedure and protocols to handle the situation, which would emerge after the restart of Chinese flights.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had a telephone conversation with the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, the foreign minister conveyed his condolences to them over the loss of precious lives due to the outbreak of coronavirus in China.