ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday urged the world to lift sanctions against Iran amid the coronavirus outbreak. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the world must show compassion as Iran was worst hit by the deadly pandemic. 

“Sanctions must be lifted against Iran, in this moment of peril so that it can use its resources to save precious human lives,” Qureshi said in a tweet.

Reports said the United States had sent Iran a blunt message that the spread of the coronavirus will not save it from US sanctions that are choking off its oil revenues and isolating its economy.

Iran is worst hit by coronavirus, with its death toll climbing to 1,284 and one person dying from it every 10 minutes and 50 becoming infected every hour.

The United States, which argues that its “maximum pressure” campaign to curb Iran’s nuclear, missile and regional activities does not stop the flow of humanitarian goods, imposed new sanctions this week. The Donald Trump administration blacklisted five companies based in the United Arab Emirates, three in mainland China, three in Hong Kong and one in South Africa for trade in Iran’s petrochemicals.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said: “We must, as leaders at time of such great challenge and difficulty, show utmost compassion.”

The FM is in self-isolation for five days after he accompanied President Dr Arif Alvi in his visit to China on March 17-18.

In a separate statement yesterday, Foreign Minister Qureshi said the government was taking every possible step to control spread of COVID-19 and called upon the citizens to act responsibly to overcome the challenge with coordinate efforts. “It is important for public to follow instructions issued by the government for their safety,” he said in a message from his residence where he moved into self-isolation for five days.

Qureshi said the government had set up the country’s largest quarantine at Multan Industrial Estate with 3,000 rooms to cater to the infected pilgrims returned from Iran.

He said he was in constant touch with district administration of Multan including Deputy Commissioner for the update about the 1,247 patients in the quarantine.

 

All patients have been kept in separate rooms provided with single beds and other necessary items including soaps, sandals etc, he said.

Qureshi said a 50-bed emergency hospital had also been set up for the patients with availability of doctors and paramedics round the clock. The FM said he was working from home and also issuing orders on pending office files.

The FM said the ministry of foreign affairs employees who come to the office by pubic transport have been encouraged to work from home. “I have spoken to foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood and we believe most of the employees can work from home,” he maintained.