All options on table for citizens’ return from China: Zafar

ISLAMABAD: As pressure is continuously mounting to bring Pakistani nationals from novel coronavirus (NCV)-hit China, the government of Pakistan said on Sunday that a decision to this effect would be made soon after considering all the options.

In a message to Pakistani students in China, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that the government had been keenly observing the situation in China.

“The matter is being considered at the high level and Inshallah best possible decision would be taken after considering all possible aspects. Rest assured that we care about you,” the SAPM said in a statement.

Talking to Dawn, he said all options were on the table and the government wanted to keep a balance on the issue.

“We have to consider all aspects including situation of the Pakistanis (in China), Chinese regulations and advisories of the World Health Organisation (WHO). All the stakeholders are involved over the issue and we have kept all options open,” he said.

Meanwhile in a tweet, Dr Mirza said “My very dear students in China and your respectable family members, we are intensely discussing the situation at highest level and will make the best decision in view of all factors with reference to devastating coronavirus potential global pandemic.”

However, a Pakistani citizen currently living in China said in a reply to the SAPM’s tweet: “We can come back we just need permission. Except our government and some sick people at least we have some people who have heart are trying to help us. Isn’t it against the country law that you are stopping us to return to our country?”

“If here [would be] your son. I’ll like to see your reaction. You are playing with our hearts and minds. Which country shut its doors to own people? If you treat your people like this, what do you expect from them? Will we not remember you and all in government,” he said.

Another Pakistani living in the coronavirus-hit Wuhan city tweeted: “Dear sir if you care about us then please spend at least one day with us in Wuhan China at least one day please after this we will never say to evacuate us. Please consider my suggestion thanks.”

Another user of social media tweeted: “It is a humble request not to tweet if you won’t change things.”

Talking to Dawn, Media Coordinator of the Ministry of National Health Services Sajid Shah said that there were some people (in China) who wanted to return but at the same time a large number of Pakistan citizens had said that they did not want to return.

“I have videos of students who have said that the Chinese government has been treating them well and they don’t want to return,” he said.

According to the WHO website, the current outbreak of NVC was first reported from Wuhan, China, on Dec 31, 2019.

“WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak,” it states. More than 37,000 cases of NVC have been reported and over 800 persons have died due to the deadly virus.

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