ISLAMABAD - First flight of Pakistani passengers from China will arrive here February 3 and all passengers would be medically examined and kept in isolation wards for fourteen days, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Health was told on Friday.

The committee met here under the chairmanship of MNA Nadir Hussain Magsi.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza while briefing the committee said that the first flight from China carrying passengers will arrive here on February 3.

He said that flight was cancelled after the spread of corona virus in China. Dr. Zafar Mirza said that all passengers of the flight will be examined at the airport and shifted to special allocated wards in hospitals if minor symptoms of fever are reported in them.

“The government is making all necessary arrangements at all airports and hospitals before the flight arrives,” he said.

He said that the Pakistan government has also made an agreement with the Chinese government that all passengers travelling to Pakistan will be shifted in special wards and remain there under observation for fourteen days.

Dr. Mirza said that while the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared international emergency on the spread of corona virus, Pakistan lacks the facilities of coping with such diseases.

“We do not have facilities to counter such spread,” he said.

SAPM on Health said that coping corona virus is a challenge for government and thermo scanners have been installed at entry and exit points of the country.

Dr. Mirza said that anyone with high temperature from a certain degree will be isolated and examined separately from other passengers.

He reiterated that the government is in contact with the Chinese authorities and 538 Pakistani students are in Wuhan city.

Dr. Mirza said that the Chinese government has assured all protection and cooperation for Pakistani students there.

He added that WHO has directed that evacuation can lead to further spread of the virus which could be dangerous.

“There are 60 million people in Wuhan and it has been locked down to control the disease,” he said.

Dr. Mirza informed the committee that all four students confirmed with the virus are recovering and the government is in contact with them.

Meanwhile, the core committee meeting on corona virus also reviewed the situation and measures being taken in this regard.

The meeting headed by Dr. Zafar Mirza SAPM was attended by secretary health, executive director National Institute of Health (NIH), members of armed forces and health experts.

Spokesperson of the health ministry, Sajid Shah, said that trained officials of health departments are ensuring screening of the passengers while Emergency Operations Cell (EOC) is also monitoring the situation.

He said the core committee had also reviewed the rapidly changing situation on corona virus in the world.

“Federal government and provinces are vigilant to meet any situation while hospitals in the provinces and the federal level have also been asked to allocate special wards to cope with any emergency situation,” he said.

The other day, Dr. Zafar Mirza had turned down the option of evacuating Pakistani students and families from China saying it could increase chances of virus spread.

Focusing on the point of evacuation of Pakistani students and families in China, Dr. Zafar had said at his press conference that such decision is ‘not in their own favour’.

He said that in fact the Chinese government which has taken appreciable measures to control the spread has also not allowed evacuation of the citizens.

“As per my information US has evacuated only its diplomats which is allowed under the Vienna Convention,” said the SAPM on health.

He said that a decision of evacuation of the citizens in haste will lead to spread of the virus and it will be risky for the people themselves.

Menahile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi telephoned Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and assured them of Pakistan’s complete support amid the corona virus outbreak.

The foreign minister conveyed his condolences on the loss of precious lives due to the outbreak of the virus in China, said a foreign ministry statement here Friday. 

He lauded the relentless efforts undertaken by China for the containment of the virus and underscored that the government and the people of Pakistan stood firmly behind China in its resolute and momentous efforts to deal with the virus.

He also thanked the Chinese authorities who had taken immense pains to help the Pakistani students in Wuhan and hoped that Beijing would continue to take best possible measures for the protection of Pakistani nationals in China.

State Councillor Wang Yi, on behalf of Premier Li Keqiang, conveyed a special message of gratitude to Prime Minister Imran Khan, underlining that Pakistan had shown tremendous support and solidarity with the Chinese people at this difficult time when they were fighting against spread of corona virus.

In a related development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved its verdict over the maintainability of a petition seeking directives for the government to make arrangements to evacuate Pakistani students from Wuhan.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah reserved the verdict after hearing the petitioner’s arguments.

The petitioner Mian Muhammad Faisal requested the court to direct the government to explain what arrangements are in place to tackle such a deadly virus in Pakistan and especially in the federal capital.