Pakistani students in Wuhan safe but not allowed to travel — foreign office

A medical staff member sprays disinfectant on a colleague as they prepare to transfer patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus from Wuhan No.5 Hospital to Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan on March 3, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Pakistani students in Wuhan safe but not allowed to travel — foreign office

  • About 1,100 Pakistani students have been stranded in Hubei province
  • Government decided not to evacuate its nationals after the epidemic began

ISLAMABAD: No Pakistani student has yet returned from Wuhan, the coronavirus outbreak’s epicenter in Hubei province, despite earlier reports of Chinese authorities relaxing their quarantine measures, Foreign Office spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui told Arab News on Thursday.
“The local authorities in Wuhan have issued a notification of relaxation in quarantine in Wuhan last week, which was taken back immediately, before implementation,” Farooqui said.
“All Pakistani students are safe, including the four discharged from hospital after recovering from infection,” she said, adding that the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing is in touch with Chinese authorities.
The Wuhan administration on Feb. 24 announced that those stranded in the city were allowed to leave, unless they had been under observation or quarantined. The notification raised hopes among the families of 1,100 Pakistani students, who have been stuck in Hubei since the lockdown was enforced on Jan. 23.
However, the announcement was retracted three hours later, when Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang said it was issued without authorization.
Meanwhile, two officials from the Pakistani Embassy who went to Wuhan in mid-February to meet the students and get first-hand information regarding their wellbeing remain in the city, according to Farooqui.
“The Chinese authorities allowed our embassy officials to enter Wuhan on condition that they would be able to leave only after the quarantine has been lifted. They are still there and looking after the Pakistani community,” she said.
The spokeswoman added that the government has transferred ¥3,500 ($504) to each of the students.
“There are many students who went to Hubei province for just a few days to collect their certificates and degrees. But they were stranded due to the quarantine. The government of Pakistan has provided ¥3,500 to each student who was registered with the Pakistani mission in Beijing,” Farooqui said, expressing hope that the quarantine will be lifted this month.
The students, however, say that they do not want money but evacuation.
“All of us received ¥3,500 in our accounts from the Pakistani government, but we haven’t asked for money. They should evacuate us as many countries have evacuated their students from Wuhan. We are sitting in the epicenter of the coronavirus and are worried about out safety,” Sadia Bajwa, a Pakistani student from Bahawalpur who is doing her doctoral studies at Huazhong Agricultural University, told Arab News over the phone on Thursday.
Pakistan decided not to evacuate its nationals from Wuhan after the epidemic began.
Impassioned video appeals from the stranded students have flooded Pakistani social media, but the government has refused to fly them back in a bid to avoid the spread of virus.


Two more lawmakers with virus die in Pakistan as new cases spike

Updated 22 min 10 sec ago

Two more lawmakers with virus die in Pakistan as new cases spike

  • Critics accuse government of easing restrictions when stricter lockdown was needed 
  • Pakistan has recorded a total of 76,512 confirmed cases and 1,688 deaths since February

KARACHI:  Two Pakistani lawmakers have died after testing positive for the coronavirus amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Officials said Tuesday that Munir Khan Orakzai, a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, died in northwest Pakistan. They said a minister in the southern Sindh province, Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, died at a hospital in the port city of Karachi.
Their deaths came weeks after the first virus-related death of a lawmaker in Pakistan took place in the eastern city of Lahore.
Pakistan on Tuesday reported 78 deaths in the past 24 hours from the country’s outbreak.
Critics blame Prime Minister Imran Khan for an increase in deaths and infections. They accuse him of easing restrictions last month at a time when there was a need to enforce a stricter lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
Pakistan has recorded a total of 76,512 confirmed cases and 1,688 deaths since February.