Shehbaz calls for emergency session of Council of Common Interest on coronavirus | Pakistan


PML-N President and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP/file

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Friday urged the government to summon an emergency session of the Council of Common Interests to deal with the coronavirus infection a couple of days after the first cases of the virus emerged in Pakistan. 

On Wednesday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza confirmed that Pakistan had reported its first two cases of the coronavirus. On Thursday, he said that both patients were stable and improving and that their families had not contracted the infection.

Shehbaz said that it was distressing how the government had not come up with a clear strategy to contain the virus. He urged all parties to play a responsible role to ensure that citizens remain protected from the virus.

“A campaign should be run for the safety and security of citizens,” he said, urging companies who manufacture masks and make medicines, to play a national role during the crisis. The PML-N leader urged these companies to refrain from making profits at the cost of people’s lives.

“To make a profit at the cost of human lives is the biggest injustice,” he said. “The government should ensure masks are distributed for free or at a minimal cost.”

Saying that no risks could be afforded when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus, he said that there was a growing concern that the crisis will not be dealt with as the government had proven to be negligent when dealing with polio and dengue viruses.

He called on the government to take steps to ensure the implementation of special coronavirus precautionary measures in schools across the country. 

The coronavirus, which began from wet markets in Wuhan, have spread to more than 40 countries causing the deaths of an estimated 2,700 people and affecting 80,000. On Thursday, Saudi authorities announced a temporary ban on travel to the kingdom except for those who have permission to travel or have permanent residence there. 

Read moreCoronavirus: Saudi Arabia imposes ban on travelers from affected countries, including Pakistan

Pakistan suspends flights to and from Iran

Pakistan on Thursday announced to suspend all flights to and from Iran as the first cases of the pandemic were confirmed in the country from travelers who had been to the country recently.

The suspension will come into force on Friday and will remain in place till further orders.

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had also recommended to the federal government to stop flights till the situation was brought under control.

“Flights from Iran should be suspended immediately in order to control the situation. These are just some of the preventative measures that we can take right now to stop the spread of virus,” he had said.

Top officials sprung into action on Thursday with Punjab and Sindh adopting precautionary measures after two coronavirus cases were confirmed in Pakistan. 

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