Some of the Pakistani nationals stranded in coronavirus-hit China started arriving home as Islamabad on Monday, 3 February, allowed two Chinese flights to land in the capital, a day after it received special medical kits from Beijing to detect the deadly virus cases.
Pakistan suspended flights from China on 31 January till 2 February, a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of the virus as a global health emergency.
According to the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCCA), two flights of China Southern Airlines from Urumqi city of China landed at the Islamabad International Airport.
Earlier on Saturday, Pakistani students stranded in coronavirus-hit Wuhan criticised the government after it announced that it will not bring them back, despite multiple requests from the students and their families for immediate evacuation.
Pakistani authorities cited inadequate medical facilities and WHO recommendations as reasons for not evacuating those stranded in Wuhan.
This comes as India sent two Air India flights to Wuhan to evacuate over 600 Indians and seven Maldivians.
Several Pakistani students stranded in Wuhan took to social media to appeal to their government to evacuate them. A viral video, purportedly recorded by one such student, shows Indian students being evacuated.
"Bangladeshis will also be evacuated later. Then it is us Pakistanis who are stranded here and our government says we won't evacuate you even if you die, get infected or are still alive. Shame on you Pakistan government, learn something from the Indians," the student can be heard saying in the video.
In another video, three women students wearing masks are seen appealing to the government of Pakistan. The women say their families in Pakistan are also suffering because of the crisis. They add that many like them are stranded in Wuhan and no food is available as the city is in a lockdown.
Some Twitter users even urged India’s foreign ministry to help evacuate Pakistani nationals stuck in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei.
The Quint has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of these videos.
‘Decision in Accordance With WHO Recommendations’
The Pakistan government’s decision is in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said.
Pakistan's Ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi on Sunday said that the Pakistani students should not be evacuated as medical facilities back home did not meet the standards required to treat a patient diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi, shared on Twitter that the move was in line with Islamic teachings.
‘Capable of Diagnosing Virus Now’
Pakistan on Sunday also said that it had acquired nearly 1,000 coronavirus testing kits from its all-weather ally China to boost the country's capability of diagnosing the disease which has claimed over 300 lives, PTI reported.
Zafar Mirza took to Twitter to share the development in the wake of concerns that Pakistan lacked the capacity to test the deadly virus.
"We have now capability of diagnosing coronarivus in Pakistan. I want to applaud our NIH (National Institute of Health) leadership and team for their hard work in securing the reagent for diagnosing," Mirza tweeted.
At least 1,000 testing kits arrived from China, boosting Pakistan's efforts to tackle the disease, the health officials said, adding that no Pakistani national has contracted the virus.
Initially, the tests will be carried out only at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad but later on, the facility will be expanded to other parts of the country.
(With inputs from PTI)