Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursda, while taking a safety measure in the wake of coronavirus, has suspended direct flights to and from China, as the death toll from a virus crossed 200 and the virus has reached 15 countries, direct flights will remain halt till February 2, sources said.
World Health Organisation called it a global health emergency. Other major airlines that have suspended or pared back services to China include British Airways, German flag carrier Lufthansa, American Airlines, KLM and United.
Almost 500 Pakistanis are studying in various universities of Wuhan, which is in virtual lockdown, while the total number of Pakistani nationals in China is between 28,000 and 30,000 – most of them are students.
Chinese authorities have taken extraordinary steps to arrest the virus spread, including effectively locking down more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.
The contagion has spread to nearly every corner of China, with remote Tibet reporting its first case on Thursday.
It has triggered fears in part due to its striking similarity to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-03, which also began in China and eventually killed nearly 800 people worldwide.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Mirza said that the embassy in China was in contact with the Pakistani citizens. He said that the government believes that China’s policies to contain the virus were adequate, pointing out that China was the first country to have developed kits to diagnose the coronavirus
A day prior, Mirza had declared that up to four Pakistani students in China were diagnosed with the coronavirus. A large proportion of the Pakistanis living in China were students of which over 500 students were based in the central city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the new virus.