Pakistan in denial of coronavirus cases?

Delhi Feb 13, 2020, 08.23 PM(IST) Written By: WION

File photo: Pakistan PM Imran Khan. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Pakistan has been busy praising China, hailing it for having a strong mechanism to deal with the contagion and washing its hands off the fate of its own citizens.

Countries that have anything to do with China in the region have been busy reporting cases, but not Pakistan which has a large people-to-people exchange with China.

The new coronavirus epidemic is about to peak. Despite the huge financial loss, countries across the world have halted flights to China because prevention is paramount in times like these.

However, Pakistan still has thousands of people coming to and fro from China even today. Islamabad doesn't have a single confirmed case yet which seems next to impossible.

Pakistan is probably among the most vulnerable countries to the virus. A big working population linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is always in transit, besides businessmen travelling for trade purposes.

When 28 countries in the world have reported confirmed cases of coronavirus, how come Pakistan hasn't? Pakistan had initially stopped flights to China, but resumed them 10 days ago.

Three flights from China landed in Pakistan on February 3 with more than 350 passengers, including Chinese nationals.

The same day when Pakistan's health ministry made a grand announcement, it had finally developed its own coronavirus testing kit.

That's how inexplicably slow Pakistan has been in dealing with this outbreak. Just 46 people have been quarantined till now, of which 5 are suspected cases.

352 Chinese people arrived via Lahore and Islamabad between February 3 and February 10. Its own students and nationals stuck in China have sent out frantic pleas for help, but Pakistan has refused to bring them back.

Pakistan has been busy praising China, hailing it for having a strong mechanism to deal with the contagion and washing its hands off the fate of its own citizens.

Pakistan might be China's all-weather ally, but this is taking it too far. The truth is that Pakistan is just not prepared to deal with it, and it has admitted to not having enough isolation facilities too.

For now, most people are just screened and then eventually sent away - if they have a fever or symptoms then they are investigated.

But still, no standard operating procedure to quarantine people. And this should not come as a surprise because Pakistan has a poor track record of handling disease outbreaks. It's one of the only two countries in the world which has failed to eliminate polio.

For now, the Pakistan government is in a state of denial, it's scared of what would happen if it faces the truth.