Parents of Pakistan students in China coronavirus center vent anger at ministers

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Islamabad: During a meeting on Wednesday, angry parents of Pakistani students were trapped in a blocked area in the China Corona virus Outbreak Center, face-to-face with government ministers who demanded that their children be evacuated.

So far, Pakistan has ruled out the possibility of taking home more than 1,000 students from Hubei Province and the capital, Wuhan, where three-quarters of the 2,000 flu-like deaths have been recorded in the area.

Health Minister Zafar Mirza and Minister for Foreign Citizenship Affairs Zulfiqar Bukhari informed their parents for the first time on Wednesday to tell them that students live better in China and that Pakistan has insufficient facilities to isolate where they return.

But hundreds of people interrupted the press conference, and some who grabbed the microphone said they would not listen to the officials before their children returned, and dozens of people flocked to the stage and surrounded the ministers.

A family member with a microphone said: “Bring our children back, they have been held for 25 days … they have not received any support from you …”

Health Minister Mirza said he would convey the parents’ anger at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Pakistan has said the Beijing embassy supports students, and a two-person team traveled to Wuhan this week to meet students and gather more information about their situation.

A spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Citizenship and the Minister of Health did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

More than 400 parents from all over the country went to a school in Islamabad to attend the meeting. After the meeting, about 100 parents protested outside with signs and blocked nearby roads. Protests were held last week in major cities such as Lahore and Karachi.

As the death toll in China increases, many students and their families are becoming increasingly frustrated and point to other countries, including neighboring countries India and Bangladesh, to evacuate their citizens.

Muhammad Wasim Akram, whose wife is a fourth-year medical student in Shiyan, Hubei, said he had spent five hours attending the meeting, but was disappointed.

“I traveled from Lahore to attend this nonsense. I feel nothing (has been done)…shame on the government,” he told Reuters, adding students’ mental health was eroding after being stuck inside for weeks, while their access to food and bottled water was limited.

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