ISLAMABAD - The risk of contraction of COVID-19 is likely to leave a negative impact on the supply of workforce for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, said Gwadar Pro App while quoting Li BiJian, China’s Consul-General in Karachi.

He further said no sector could escape the effects of the deadly virus.

“Shielding the workforce at every CPEC project from contraction of the virus forms the top priority at present,” he said, and added, “Along with rise in confirmed cases, in case some cities or regions become the epicenter and a large number of people are infected, these will surely add more pressure to the management of each project.”

He said if there occurred infection, tough measures of isolation as well as prevention would be applied which will impact, in varying degrees, the execution of these projects, based on how many people were affected. This may lead to the risk of reduction in workforce. Some replacements may not materialize and some expired visas and passports may not be renewed in due course.

“On the other hand, the local employees form the bulk of the workforce of the projects. There is a high risk that the current status quo may not be maintained and replacements may be delayed. These will more or less impact the operation and implementation of the projects,” he feared.

He further said ever since the outbreak of the epidemic early this year, every project manager had been taking stringent preventive measures with a strong support provided by the Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments together with the special protection forces.

“The Chinese side is taking strictest measures to screen and check the inbound personnel from China, and so far there is not a single imported case from China. And Zero contraction target has occurred and maintained in all projects up till now. And all the projects are operating smoothly according to schedule,” China’s counsel general said, and added, “Secondly, the import and shipment of the equipment, spare parts, materials, may not be made on time and may affect the smooth operation, and cause delays in implementation of some of these projects. The lockdown of cities and provinces, and closure of government and business offices may cause delays in clearance by the customs, handling and transporting of the relevant goods.”

The less the pandemic prolonged, the smaller the effects on CPEC. If the pandemic prolonged for a longer period of time, the bigger the effects would be. But one thing was clear and that was also the advantage Pakistan had, the quick recovery of China after her winning the preliminary battle against the pandemic, Li BiJian concluded.