300 stranded Pakistanis enter Balochistan after Iran border temporarily opened

A Pakistan health official screens a man at the Taftan border crossing between the Pakistan-Iran border on Feb. 23, 2020. (Photo Courtesy: Office of the assistant commissioner Taftan)
Short Url
Updated 15 March 2020

300 stranded Pakistanis enter Balochistan after Iran border temporarily opened

  • Two Pakistanis who recently returned from Iran tested positive for coronavirus
  • Pakistan sealed its border with Iran after Tehran confirmed deaths from the virus on Monday

KARACHI: Pakistan on Friday temporarily opened its border with Iran at Taftan crossing point to allow 300 stranded nationals, mostly traders, to enter Balochistan province, officials said.
Pakistan closed its border with Iran on Monday after Tehran confirmed deaths from the deadly coronavirus.
“Today, we opened the border and allowed 300 people, mostly traders, stuck on the Iranian side to enter Pakistan,” Assistant Commissioner of Taftan, Najibullah Qambrani, told Arab News.
He said that all the pilgrims will be quarantined while the traders will be allowed to go if they are cleared during the initial screening.
However, he said that this will be conditional to whether their travel history confirms they have not visited the affected Iranian province.
A complete screening set-up has been installed at the border crossing to keep the virus from entering Pakistan, Qambrani said.
On Thursday, Pakistan suspended its flight operation to Iran after health authorities confirmed two cases of coronavirus — one in the southern port city of Karachi — who had returned from Iran to Pakistan on February 20 by air. 
“One case has been reported in Sindh, whereas the second person tested positive in the federal (capital) areas,” State Minister for Health Zafar Mirza said during a press conference in Quetta.
Both the persons traveled to Iran in the past 14 days, Mirza said, adding that they were in stable condition.
The coronavirus patient in Sindh has been identified as a 22-year-old resident of Karachi who is already quarantined.
The man “and other members of his family have been quarantined at a private hospital,” Meeran Yousuf, spokesperson of the Sindh health department, told Arab News.
The development followed the establishment of isolation wards in hospitals and closure of education institutes for two days in Sindh and Balochistan.
Health emergency has been imposed in ten districts bordering Iran, according to a briefing given to chief minister Balochistan, Jam Kamal, on Friday. Around 5000 masks have also been distributed in sensitive districts while Isolation units have been established in different areas along Pakistan’s border with Iran and Afghanistan, according to an official handout released after the briefing. 
The centers have been provided with ThermoGuns and 231 ambulances to tackle emergencies. 
Education institutes in Balochistan have been temporarily closed until March 15 “as a precaution to protect children from coronavirus,” the province’s education directorate announced in a circular on Wednesday.
Chief Minister Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, said that data acquired from the aviation department confirmed that around 8,000 passengers had traveled from Iran where 1,500 of them had arrived in Karachi. “All of them would be contacted for screening.”
“A group of 28 people who had traveled along the coronavirus patient has also been identified and will be approached for screening,” Shah added, informing that the person suffering from the virus had been shifted to an isolated place from the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi.
Iran has the highest number of coronavirus affectees outside of China. The country’s health ministry spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said on Wednesday that 19 people had died from the illness, with 139 confirmed cases in the country.
The deadly virus has infected more than 80,000 people around the world, causing over 2,700 deaths, mainly in China, according to the World Health Organization.


Chinese doctors, coronavirus relief supplies arrive in Pakistan

Updated 28 March 2020

Chinese doctors, coronavirus relief supplies arrive in Pakistan

  • FM Qureshi received the medical team at Islamabad airport
  • Chinese government and private donations for coronavirus relief includes test kits, PPE, face masks and funding support for an isolation hospital

ISLAMABAD: A special plane from China carrying an eight member medical team and relief assistance for Pakistan’s fight against the coronavirus touched down in Islamabad on Saturday, according to state-owned Radio Pakistan.
The novel coronavirus first broke out in China’s Hubei province late last year, and was declared a global pandemic by the WHO in January 2020. To date, it has claimed about 28,000 deaths around the world with surging rates of infection.
Through stringent containment measures, China was able to stem virus cases on its soil, and this week, the original epicenter of the deadly outbreak, Wuhan City, relaxed lockdown measures for the first time in months. Pakistan’s current cases of the infection stand at roughly 1,400 with 11 people dead and the numbers rising every day. Partial lockdowns have been imposed in some provinces.
China’s state assistance to its western neighbor so far includes 12,000 test kits, 300,000 face masks, 10,000 protective suits for health care workers on the disease front-lines, as well as funding support to build an isolation hospital, according to the foreign office.
The medical team from China are experts in dealing with the coronavirus and will remain in Pakistan for two weeks, the foreign office said. FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi personally received the Chinese medial experts at Islamabad airport.
“We are grateful, this is a unique relationship. And such times tell us how close we are to each other,” Qureshi said at the event.
Additionally, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Foundation and the Ali Baba foundation have donated 50,000 test kits and 500,000 face masks to Pakistan, the foreign office said.
Through the Khunjerab Pass earlier this week, China also provided over two tons of masks, test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment. Pakistan has also been the recipient of considerable private donations from China.
Earlier this month, President Arif Alvi and a contingent of high level officials including FM Qureshi visited Beijing to express solidarity with China in its fight against the virus.