Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday he will self-isolate for five days after his recent trip to China as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus that has infected 249 people in the country.
Qureshi was part of the delegation of President Arif Alvi who visited China this week to express solidarity and seek cooperation in different sectors, especially defeating COVID-19 in Pakistan.
"Before leaving for China, we had a swab test done, which came back negative," Qureshi told Geo TV.
"When we reached China, a blood and swab test was done again, which also came back negative and only after that we had our meetings. Before leaving, another blood test was conducted, whose result will be issued today," he said.
Qureshi said still he decided to go into self-isolation for five days as a precautionary measure.
"After five days, I will do another swab test and if that also comes back negative, I will then go out and interact with people. This is what the experts have suggested and I intend to do it to set an example for others," he said.
Qureshi said China would provide testing kits, protective gear and portable ventilators to Pakistan as well cash grants.
"China has [also] decided it will provide us with a cash grant to set up a state-of-the-art isolation centre to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the country," he said.
The minister said their visit was first by any foreign delegation to China and the main purpose of the trip was to show solidarity with China. "They told us we were the first delegation to visit China since the virus broke out, which re-affirmed our 'iron brother' status," he said.
Qureshi lavished praise on China for controlling the epidemic through effective measures.
Talking about Pakistani students with whom he had spoken during the visit, Qureshi said that they were happy and had already started their studies. He said Pakistan would also overcome the crisis and urged all provinces to follow an approach which suited it.
"Every province will need to be approached differently. Every province has a different need. We need to take decisions keeping in mind the province," he said.
Meanwhile, more cases surfaced in Sindh where so far 181 coronavirus patients were identified, according to provincial spokesman Murtaza Wahab. Another 26 in Punjab, 19 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 16 in Balochistan, 5 Gilgit-Baltistan and 2 in Islamabad were identified.
Education minister Shafqat Mahmood told media that all examinations were cancelled until June 1 and universities asked to delay their admissions to accommodate students. He said all hostels in universities were vacated but foreign students were allowed to stay in their hotels.