Foreign minister admits challenges exist to halting spread of coronavirus despite series of preventative measures
The Government of Pakistan has learnt from China’s experience in dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak, and is trying to emulate it to halt the spread of the disease here, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said.
In an interview with China’s Global Television Network during a two-day trip to Beijing with President Arif Alvi, the foreign minister said Islamabad had put in place protocols such as quarantine procedures, screening at entry points to combat the virus’ threat.
Qureshi said the government had banned large public gatherings and shut down educational institutions. “We are taking measures, but the challenge [of overcoming the virus] is there,” he added.
Acknowledging that Pakistan had sent medical supplies and resources to help China in the early stages of the pandemic, the minister said it was heartening to see Beijing come to Islamabad’s aid now that it had its own outbreak. “Whatever we ask for, China has been forthcoming and helpful,” he said, adding that China had provided medical teams to assess the situation in Pakistan, as well as donating testing kits, thermal screening and personal protective gear.
The foreign minister said Pakistan’s greatest need at the moment was ventilators, of which the country has a massive shortage. Echoing comments from Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said that economic relief from the international community would be greatly helpful in Pakistan’s war on coronavirus.
“China has done an amazing job,” said Qureshi of Beijing’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Nobody in the world could have visualized that in such a short time the Chinese people, government and leadership [would] put things together so effectively and demonstrate to the world that they have the capacity to address the challenge. The healthcare system, governance capacity, the administrative capability [are] phenomenal,” he added.
The foreign minister admitted that there are concerns about China’s economy after the pandemic is over, but said Beijing’s fundamentals were very strong and solid. “It will be a temporary dip, but China will recover very quickly,” he said, adding that all indicators showed a rapid recovery.
Globally, over 7,900 have died of COVID-19, with more than 198,000 infected. The epicenter of the disease has shifted from China, where it originated late last year, to Europe, where it is currently prompting governments to initiate lockdowns in a bid to halt its spread. Pakistan has at least 241 confirmed cases of the disease so far, with health officials warning that this statistic is likely to rise in the coming days.