ISLAMABAD-Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Thursday demanded that a parliamentary committee should be immediately formed for a continuous oversight over the government’s measures to prevent outbreak of deadly coronavirus in the country.

Former Chairman Senate and PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani made this demand apart from showing his concerns for those Pakistani students stuck in Chinese central city of Wuhan, the epicentre of outbreak, and other parts of China. Rabbani in a statement said that it was a matter of grave concern that certain Pakistani students in China have been affected by the ‘coronavirus’ while others are at serious risk.

“The federal government has failed to take adequate measures to provide information and access to the parents and other family members of these students,” he said adding that Pakistani embassy in Beijing has allegedly failed to maintain regular contact with the students. Citing some media report, the opposition lawmaker said that there was information that the “Help Line Number” shared by the embassy for those Pakistanis stuck in China was also inoperative. “The life and health of every Pakistani is priceless.”

On the other hand, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza in a presser said that evacuation of these students from China to Pakistan was not advisable and against larger interest of the country.

Meanwhile, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and PPP Senator A. Rehman Malik also took notice of these Pakistanis students stuck in China and asked the Ministry of Interior to take all measures for their safe return. Senator Malik said many Pakistani students stranded in China have contacted him besides he received many messages from their parents demanding for the arrangements of their safe return at the earliest. He said that many countries have already evacuated their citizens and students from China but Pakistani students have not yet been rescued.

“They are suffering because of food shortage and restriction in their movements,” PPP lawmaker said. He deplored that these students were not being provided any help by the Pakistani authorities in coordination with China. He has asked the Ministry of Interior to take up the issue with Chinese authorities for taking care of their food, medicines and for their safe return to Pakistan. Through the notice, the chairman committee also sought a detailed report from the ministry as to what steps have been taken for proper screening of all passengers travelling from China to Pakistan. “What measures have been taken to check the food items who are being imported from China for Chinese workers working here?” he asked.

Senator Malik directed the Ministry of Interior that all the airlines should be asked to provide the list of the passengers, their origin of flights with details and all should be screened for coronavirus at their arrival at airports throughout the country.