Foreign Office adopts social distancing steps amid virus threat

Published March 18, 2020
Partial suspension of walk-in consular services, change in format of the weekly media briefing enforced. — Dawn.com/File
Partial suspension of walk-in consular services, change in format of the weekly media briefing enforced. — Dawn.com/File

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Tuesday set up a special cell for coordination on coronavirus and introduced a number of social distancing measures.

The newly-established cell, headed by Special Secretary (Admin) Moazzam Ahmed Khan, would liaise with diplomatic corps in the country as well as with Pakistani missions abroad, the FO said.

The social distancing measures introduced by the FO included partial suspension of walk-in consular services and a change in the format of the weekly media briefing.

“In order to take necessary precautions to deal with the rising threat of pandemic viral disease (Covid-19), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to suspend all walk-in consular services except attestation of power of attorney,” the FO said.

The walk-in services would stay suspended from March 18 to April 3, after which the situation would be reviewed.

The consular services are provided at the FO headquarters in Islamabad and the camp offices in provincial capitals. Hundreds of people visit the consular facilities daily for legalisation of various documents.

“The facility of the attestation of documents would be continued through the courier companies i.e., Pakistan Post, Gerry’s, Leopard and TCS,” the FO said.

Meanwhile, under the changed format of the weekly media briefing, the opening statement of the spokesperson would be carried live, while journalists have been asked to send their questions through email.

“The responses will be uploaded to the website along with the opening statement,” the FO said.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2020

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