ISLAMABAD - President Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Planning Minister Asad Umar and other members of the delegation were yesterday declared free of coronavirus as they returned from a two-day visit to China. However, FM Qureshi said he was

A foreign ministry statement said that China had officially informed Pakistan that the delegation members were free of the infection. “The delegation members were tested before flying to China and after flying to Pakistan. The reports are negative. All the delegation members are clear (of infection),” said a foreign ministry statement, citing information from the Chinese government.

 President Arif Alvi had visited China from March 16-17. The President was accompanied by the Foreign Minister, Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, and senior officials.

Foreign Minister Qureshi told journalists that he had isolated himself for five days after the China visit.  “China had almost defeated coronavirus. We are learning from them. I am isolating myself for five days as a precautionary measure. I will get another test done after five days,” he said.

FM Qureshi said before flying to China he and others had swab tests done, which were negative. “When we reached China, a blood and swab test was done again, which also came negative and only after that we had our meetings. Before leaving, another blood test was conducted,” Qureshi said. He said after five days, “I will get another swab test done and if that also comes back negative, I will go out and interact with people. This is what the experts have suggested and I intend to do so to set an example forothers.” The FM said Pakistan and China had always stood by each other in difficult times. He said the visit to China was aimed at expressing solidarity with the Chinese leadership and people regarding the outbreak of coronavirus.

The FM said Pakistan will have to maintain balance to deal with the coronavirus as complete lockdown will create many problems. “China has dealt with the problem through a targeted approach,” he maintained.

  The FM said China will provide Pakistan with testing kits, protective gear, and portable ventilators as the country tries to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak.

 “China has decided it will provide us with a cash grant to set up a state-of-the-art isolation centre to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the country,” FM Qureshi said.

 President Alvi’s first visit to Beijing was a singular expression of Pakistan’s solidarity with its “iron brother.” The visit was undertaken at a time while China was engaged in a massive national struggle to contain the Covid-19.