Pakistan has decided not to bring back Pakistani citizens stranded in China in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation reports the Dawn.
“We believe that right now, it is in the interest of our loved ones in China [to stay there]. It is in the larger interest of the region, world, country that we don’t evacuate them now,” Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza told reporters at a press conference in Islamabad.
“This is what the World Health Organisation is saying, this is China’s policy and this is our policy as well. We stand by China in full solidarity,” he declared. “Right now the government of China has contained this epidemic in Wuhan city. If we act irresponsibly and start evacuating people from there, this epidemic will spread all over the world like wildfire.”
“So far, China has not allowed evacuation [of people],” he said. “You will, of course, remind me the United States has evacuated its diplomatic staff — not all citizens. This is a condition of the Vienna Convention which dictates that the host country can allow diplomats to leave if their country wishes for them to return.”
Mirza said that the embassy in China was in contact with the Pakistani citizens. He said that the government believes that China’s policies to check the virus were satisfactory, hinting that China was the first country to have formed kits to diagnose the coronavirus.
“China is one country where this disease can be successfully diagnosed,” he said and added that Pakistan was trying to improve its capability to diagnose and treat the virus.
“Government cares about its citizens just as much as their own families. But we don’t want to […] take an emotional decision and become a reason for the spread of this disease,” he said and added: “Our responsibilities include ensuring that our citizens, especially those in Wuhan, are being looked after properly […] Our Foreign Office and our embassy in China are constantly collecting and providing information.”
Earlier, Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) assured that the “Pakistani government was making an all-out effort for its citizens” stranded in China and was doing everything to assist them. She explained that other countries were also in contact with China but none had tried to repatriate its citizens.
As the death toll rose to 170, foreign evacuees from the worst-hit region began returning home under close observation. The world health officials expressed great concern that the disease is starting to spread between people outside of China.
Thursday’s figures cover the previous 24 hours and represent an increase of 38 deaths and 1,737 cases for a total of 7,711. Of the new deaths, 37 were in the epicentre of the outbreak in Hubei province and one in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
The news comes as the 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, the Hubei province city of 11 million where the outbreak originated, are undergoing three days of testing and monitoring at a Southern California military base to make sure they do not show signs of the virus.
A group of 210 Japanese evacuees from Wuhan landed on Thursday at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on a second government-chartered flight, according to the foreign ministry.
France, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and other countries are also pulling out their citizens or making plans to do so.