'Pakistan won't repatriate citizens from coronavirus-hit China, students have recovered'
Minister says the government had 'complete trust' in Beijing's policies to combat the epidemic.
Despite strong criticism from the opposition, the Pakistan government has decided to stay firm on its earlier decision against the repatriation of Pakistanis stuck in virus-hit China, a top official said.
Addressing the media on Saturday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, Zafar Mirza said: "It (coronavirus) is now being transferred from human to human. It means that a person affected with the virus can also become a source for the transfer of the virus.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the situation an emergency of international concern. Being a responsible nation, Pakistan wants to take steps that ensure the safety of maximum people."
He said that the decision was finalised after a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, where the latter assured that taking care of Pakistani citizens was a priority for China's government, Dawn news reported.
Mirza declared that the decision of non-repatriation of Pakistani citizens from China was final, saying that the government had "complete trust" in Beijing's policies to combat the epidemic.
Giving an update on the status of the Pakistani students who had caught the coronavirus in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, Mirza said that they had recovered as the disease was diagnosed at an early stage.
The SAPM further said that the Pakistani citizens, who are stranded in China, will not be allowed to return until they have been quarantined for 14 days and were found to be free of the disease.
Mirza said that a comprehensive plan had been devised to ensure that when flights from China to Pakistan resume, passengers are screened properly.
As of Sunday, Chinese authorities put the toll at 304, with a total of 14,380 infected cases in the country alone.
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