Pakistanis return from China as flights resume


On January 31, Pakistan had suspended flights to China.

Islamabad: Pakistanis stranded in China started arriving in Islamabad on Monday as the Imran Khan-led government resumed flight operations to the Asian giant where the deadly coronavirus outbreak has killed 361 people.

Following the resumption of flights, two flights carrying Pakistanis arrived from China earlier in the day, news report quoted Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza as saying.

Taking to Twitter, Mirza said: “We supervised implementation of ‘Airport SOPs’ and I interviewed passengers.”

On January 31, Pakistan had suspended flights to China, a day after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a global health emergency.

The first, a Qatar Airlines flight, arrived from Doha, carrying 40 students. Health department staff conducted medical examinations of all the students at the Islamabad airport after which they were permitted to go home.

The second, a China Southern Airlines flight CZ6007, brought 69 passengers.

According to aviation officials, a checkup for coronavirus was conducted.

The flight included members of a group of Pakistani students and community members stranded in Ürümqi due to the suspension of flights in the wake of the outbreak.

They were earlier granted an 11-day visa extension by Chinese authorities.

The third flight, carrying 86 passengers, also arrived at the Islamabad International Airport, directly from China,

Ahead of the flight arrivals, Mirza had reviewed the arrangements for screening passengers at the airport.

“At all airports, screening systems have been strengthened. The Pakistani government is prepared for any emergency situation,” Mirza said, adding: “The health department has the facilities for detecting coronavirus cases.

“At all airports, comprehensive screening arrangements are available.”

China’s death toll from the new coronavirus increased to 361 on Monday, surpassing the number of fatalities of its SARS crisis two decades ago.

The virus has since spread to more than 24 countries, including India, Sri Lanka and Nepal in South Asia.

The Pakistan government has confirmed that the seven suspected coronavirus cases in the country have tested negative.

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