MAHAM Ali Khan, a student who went to China to collect her degree and now can’t return after the virus outbreak, is seen on a mobile phone during a video call with her mother in Karachi on Feb 6.—Reuters
MAHAM Ali Khan, a student who went to China to collect her degree and now can’t return after the virus outbreak, is seen on a mobile phone during a video call with her mother in Karachi on Feb 6.—Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan on Wednesday directed the Foreign Office to take every possible step to help Pakistani students stuck in novel coronavirus (NCV)-hit Wuhan city of China.

On the other hand, Pakistani students of a Chinese medical university have got panicked as patients infected with the deadly virus have been shifted to a building located near their university.

Islamabad has contacted the Chinese authorities with the request to shift those patients somewhere else.

Besides, the prime minister said in a tweet: “I have issued instructions to our Foreign Office and Overseas Ministry to do everything possible for our students who are stuck in Wuhan city.”

Fear among Pakistanis in China as patients are housed in building near their varsity

The prime minister said that Pakistan stood with the people and government of China in their difficult and trying time and it would always stand by them.

“We will be extending every material and moral support to China just as China has always stood by us during all our times of trial and tribulation,” he added.

Meanwhile, during a meeting of the Senate Standing Commit­tee on National Health Services (NHS) , Pakistan Peoples Party legislator Bahra­mand Khan Tangi got emotional over the issue.

“My nephew is in China and my whole family is disturbed due to outbreak of the virus in China. My nephew has told us that three out of four gates of the university remain closed,” he said.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that he, along with SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Syed Zulfikar Ali Bukhari, had talked to Pakistani students through video link.

“Though it is being said that the students have been suffering and are panicked but at the same time a number of students are quite happy there and don’t want to return,” he said.

Dr Mirza said that a few days ago a wave of concern was triggered among the students of a Chinese university as an isolation ward was established near their varsity.

“Students feared that they may be infected with the virus. However because of a huge number of patients it was necessary to shift patients to a block near university. We have contacted the Chinese authorities and asked them to shift those patients somewhere else,” he said.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf legislator Professor Dr Mehr Taj Roghani, while expressing concern over the situation, suggested that the patients should not be kept near the university as the students could be infected.

Dr Zafar said that China had done a marvellous job in controlling the disease as 98 per cent patients had recovered in the country.

“In Pakistan samples of 57 suspected patients have been tested and not a single has been found positive. We can surely say that there is no confirmed case of NCV in Pakistan,” he said.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Ghous Mohammad Khan Niazi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, urged the SAPM on health to remain in contact with the students and take necessary steps.

According to the website of the World Health Organisation, the outbreak of the NVC was first reported from Wuhan, China, on Dec 31, 2019.

“WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak,” it states.

More than 45,000 cases of the NVC have been reported and over 1,100 persons have died due to the deadly virus.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2020