ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to designate the Haj Complex in Rawalpindi to quarantine the suspected patients of novel coronavirus landing at the Islamabad airport.
This was announced by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Thursday. He said the place had been designated with the approval of the prime minister and support of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Chairing a meeting of the emergency core group for the coronavirus preparedness and response, Mr Mirza claimed that the National Action Plan against the deadly virus was being implemented and isolation wards for its patients had been established across the country.
He said no case of coronavirus had so far been reported in Pakistan, adding that strict vigilance was being maintained at all airports where dedicated public health teams and airport health officials screen people arriving in the country from abroad.
He said measures were being taken against the deadly virus under the National Action Plan and in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. Both isolation facilities at designated hospitals and quarantine arrangements were essential requirements to meet any eventuality, he added.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources was informed by the officials of the ministries of foreign affairs and overseas Pakistanis that around 100 million people had been hit by novel coronavirus in China.
They said that only two cities in China had been declared most sensitive.
“There are 1,000 Pakistani students in the two cities. Moreover, there are nationals of 125 countries in China, but only 25 countries have called for evacuation of their citizens from the country. Countries like Bangladesh and Nepal have not called for evacuation of their citizens from China,” the meeting was told.
The meeting, chaired by Senator Hilalur Rehman, was informed that China had quarantined people in both the cities due to which they could not move out of them.
It was also informed that the Pakistani Embassy in China was in contact with every Pakistani and it was making it sure that they receive edible items and other facilities without any interruption.
Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Sassui Palijo expressed concern over the absence of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfikar Ali Bukhari from the meeting.
“He should have attended the meeting as the whole nation, especially parents of Pakistani students in China, is very much concerned,” she said.
Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt suggested that Pakistan should not look at other countries for bringing their children back from China.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020