Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that China gave priority to Pakistan with medical assistance for the coronavirus pandemic as soon as it brought the outbreak in its territories under control.

While addressing the inaugural ceremony of Cantonment General Hospital in Rawalpindi, the premier said that the government has been preparing to combat coronavirus since January.

He said that the worldwide demand for healthcare staff and material had shot up in the wake of the pandemic.

“I read today that the US had opened visas for health workers to assist them in handling the situation,” said the prime minister, noting that it was quite difficult to acquire a US visa in the past.

The prime minister lauded China for lending medical assistance and supplies to Pakistan to help curb the disease.

PM Imran also paid tribute to doctors, nurses and medical staff fighting on the frontlines in Pakistan.

He said that the government is constantly thinking about how best to facilitate them and the nation is standing firm behind them.

“Your protection is our number one priority,” he said, indirectly addressing the medical staff tending to coronavirus patients.

The prime minister expressed fear that the pandemic will peak in Pakistan, but no one knows at what rate.

He noted that Pakistan has had relatively fewer fatalities as compared to the ratio around the world.

The prime minister also regretted that the healthcare system in Pakistan has been neglected in the past 70 years.

As of Wednesday, the number of coronavirus patients across the country has crossed 2,000, with the death toll at 26.