Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that he is self-isolating after a trip to China.
The minister spoke to SAMAA TV Wednesday morning after returning from his trip to Beijing. President Arif Alvi and MNA Asad Umar were among others on the same trip.
The Pakistani government has advised that everyone coming from abroad self-isolate in case they have contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Before leaving we did a swab test here and when we landed the Chinese officials took a blood test, he said. They both came back negative and they took another blood test after the meeting (with President Xi Jinping) and the results haven’t come back yet, said the minister.
However, he decided to isolate himself as a precaution for a few days. My only interactions are over the phone, he said. Qureshi said he will undergo another swab test within five days. “I am going to follow protocol,” he said.
As of Tuesday evening, Pakistan had recorded 237 coronavirus cases, with most being people who had travelled abroad. On Tuesday night the government said anyone travelling to Pakistan must have a certificate with their name and passport number that they have tested negative for the virus.
Qureshi said that China thanked Pakistan for standing by it during this difficult time during the meeting. When the world was trying to stigmatise us, Pakistan was the first country to stand by us, he quoted President Xi as saying.
Pakistan had made the decision not to evacuate its citizens from China, including its students in the virus epicentre of Wuhan. You trusted us and we won’t forget it, President Xi told the Pakistani delegation. And this was reaffirmed by the prime minister and National Peoples Committee chairman as well, said Qureshi.
During their visit, the Pakistani delegation met Pakistani students from nine universities, some via video call, and were assured that everyone is okay. They told us that they’re fine, they trust us and are no longer stressed, he said.
Qureshi also discussed the dilemma of pilgrims arriving in Pakistan and filling the quarantine centres. He urged countries to stagger the pilgrims’ arrival so that they can be received and handled in an organised fashion, otherwise the country’s system will collapse.
He said Pakistan must adopt an approach like China. Just one new coronavirus case was reported in Wuhan yesterday, he said, repeating the Chinese government’s claims of winning the battle against COVID-19. They did it because their people acted responsibly and followed the government’s directives without question, said the foreign minister.
He said China had no set policy to deal with the coronavirus. The Chinese government told us that they managed each province according to their needs, he said. For example, Wuhan was locked down but other provinces weren’t, he said.