Chinese envoy reassures Pakistanis after students in Wuhan appeal for evacuation

Published: January 27, 2020

KARACHI: Shortly after a video clip showing some Pakistani students making an impassioned appeal for their evacuation from the Chinese city of Wuhan – the epicenter of the novel coronavirus – went viral on social media, China’s ambassador reassured that all Pakistani citizens, including students, in the quarantined metropolis of Hubei province “are safe and in good health”.

In the video clip posted on the popular microblogging site Twitter, a group of students from the Wuhan University of Science and Technology appeal to the Pakistani government to evacuate them.
“We’ve been trapped on the campus for so many days. And now we’re also running out of food supplies,” a girl student, who identifies herself as Hafsa Tayyab, says in the clip with more than a dozen students, all wearing surgical masks, standing behind her.

Hafsa says Wuhan has been cut off from the rest of the country. “We appeal to the Pakistani government to rescue us. Other countries are doing all they can to help their citizens stuck in the city,” she says.

There are almost 200 Pakistani students in Wuhan alone, who need to be evacuated at the earliest.

Chinese authorities believe the mysterious coronavirus might have spread into the human population from an infected animal at a wet market in Wuhan, the city of 11 million which has been quarantined since, halting all public transportation, including city buses, trains, and ferries.

Any buses or trains are prevented from coming into or leaving the city and all planes are grounded at the Wuhan airport.

Soon after the video clip went viral, China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said both Islamabad and Beijing have been working together to ensure the safety of Pakistani students in the virus-stricken city.

In a video message tweeted by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, he also assured that all Pakistanis, including the students, in China “are safe and in good health”.

Ambassador Yao added that China is doing “all it can” to help the Pakistani community. “There is close coordination between Pakistan’s Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese government to facilitate the citizens in any way possible amid the viral outbreak,” he said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi endorsed Ambassador Yao, saying that Pakistan’s Foreign Office is in close contact with Chinese authorities in Beijing. “We’ve almost 500 registered students in Wuhan. The numbers might exceed to 800, if non-registered students are counted,” he said.

He said the entire city of Wuhan has been quarantined, but added that “so far, there has been no reported case of a Pakistani national having contracted the mysterious illness.” The foreign minister went on to add that two officers have been assigned to register non-registered students. The contact numbers of the officers have been published on the website of Pakistan’s Embassy in Beijing.

Qureshi said Pakistani students could contact Pakistan’s Embassy for registration or any other information. “We’re in constant contact with our diplomatic mission in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry, and the Chinese ambassador in Pakistan,” he said.

“We’ve requested the Chinese foreign ministry to provide assistance to any Pakistani in need of food supplies,” he added. “We’ve been informed that Chinese authorities are providing daily food supplies in the quarantined areas.”

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