Published On: Sun, Feb 2nd, 2020

Pakistani students should NOT be evacuated from Wuhan as China has better medical facilities – envoy

Pakistani envoy to China said that local hospitals are better equipped to treat the deadly coronavirus, and therefore, unlike some other countries, Islamabad will not be evacuating its students amid the outbreak.

Pakistan’s hospitals “do not meet the standards required to treat a patient diagnosed with coronavirus,” Naghmana Hashmi said on Sunday, as cited by local outlet Geo News.

China, on the other hand, has “the best medical facilities to handle the patients suffering from the disease,” the envoy stated. Hashmi said that Islamabad is working closely with Chinese officials to ensure that Pakistani students stay safe in Wuhan, the city in central China’s Hubei Province that was the epicenter of the outbreak.

The envoy added that the four Pakistanis diagnosed with the virus were recovering. She rejected the reports that the embassy was not receiving phone calls, and that stranded students had no food and water.

Pakistani Health Minister Zafar Mirza said earlier that Islamabad will not be “just copying a few other countries” that have decided to pull their citizens out of China. “We want to act responsibly in order not to become a reason for global spread of #Coronavirus,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that the World Health Organization currently does not recommend evacuation.

Instead, Pakistani nationals will be allowed to return home after being quarantined for two weeks and receiving a certificate that they do not carry the virus.

Pakistani government’s response to the outbreak drew criticism from opposition politicians, like Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, who accused the Pakistani embassy in China of not being “active” enough.

The decision not to evacuate students in particular has sparked complaints on social media. In a video that has gone viral, a Pakistani student showed how hundreds of Indian students were being evacuated by bus from Wuhan, and said that it was a “shame” that Islamabad did not do the same.

The previously-unknown coronavirus has killed 304 people in China and has spread to some other countries. So far, more than 14,500 people have been infected, most of them in mainland China.

On Sunday, the first death outside China was reported in the Philippines.

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