Pakistan monitoring situation in China amid coronavirus outbreak: FO

The Pakistani government is monitoring the situation in China and is in close contact with the relevant authorities in order ensure safety of Pakistani students in Wuhan amid coronavirus outbreak that has killed 170 people, the Foreign Office said on Thursday. 

“Islamabad has taken up the issue of food shortages with concerned officials and we are assured by the Chinese government of full cooperation in this regard," Foreign Office Spokesperson Aaisha Farooqui said at a press briefing.

In response to questions about the evacuation of Pakistani citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of deadly virus, the spokesperson said, “Islamabad is monitoring the evolving situation and will take a decision after consultations among all the stakeholders.”

The World Health Organization, which initially downplayed the severity of a disease that has now killed 170 in China, planned a meeting Thursday on whether to declare the epidemic a global emergency.

Regardless of any WHO declaration, governments, companies and people around the world continued to ramp up efforts to try and contain the mysterious illness that is believed to have emerged from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Some Pakistani students in Wuhan, however, are complaining that they are not being taken care of by the Chinese authorities and demanded immediate evacuation in a social media post earlier this week.

Asked to comment on whether Pakistan would be putting restrictions on flights coming in from China, and closing down the Khunjrab border crossing, the spokesperson stated that the border opening has been rescheduled for April.

“We have taken up the issue of accommodation of citizens stopped at Urumqi airport and has asked Chinese officials to make appropriate arrangements,” she said.

"The government has established an emergency centre at the National Institute of Health and a technical committee is working for prevention and policy guidance," she noted.  Pakistani students have been advised to get themselves registered with the embassy.

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