Mirza: Pakistani pilgrims will be allowed to return from Iran ‘gradually’
Pak ‘temporarily’ opens Taftan border to allow 250-300 citizens to return
TAFTAN: Assistant Commissioner of Taftan Najibullah Qambrani confirmed on Friday that the Taftan border between Iran and Pakistan has been temporarily opened to allow for one-way traffic into the country.
Around 250-300 Pakistanis stuck in Iran are being allowed to return, he said, adding that those returning include pilgrims among other Pakistani citizens, he said.
He added that the citizens were stuck in Iran and their visas were expiring.
“Those entering Pakistan from Iran are being screened. The pilgrims will definitely be kept under quarantine. They will be allowed to leave after proper screening has been done,” Qambrani said.
Meanwhile, Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said on Twitter that some “350 Pakistanis on the Pak-Iran border have been allowed to enter the country.”
The process of crossing the border into Pakistan is ongoing.
Earlier this week, Pakistan had temporarily closed all the five entry points — Taftan, Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur and Washuk — at the border with Iran as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Around 5,000 pilgrims are currently in Iran.
Earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Friday that the government now has a plan to deal with the situation of pilgrims coming to Pakistan from Iran, which has been hit with the coronavirus epidemic.
Dr Mirza said he has reviewed the situation at the Taftan-Zahedan border.
During his visit, the health adviser said that the over next few days the authorities will gradually allow Pakistani ‘zaireens’ or pilgrims returning from Iran to enter the country, after full health screening.
He further said that the point of entry is being strengthened.
Pakistan on Sunday had sealed its border with Iran and declared emergency in border districts.
On Wednesday, Pakistan recorded its first two cases of coronavirus, with one each being in Karachi and Islamabad. The patients had returned recently from Iran.
Earlier, Dr Mirza said that the two patients were stable and their condition was improving. “Contacts traced until now and tested are all negative,” he added.
Separately, the Sindh health department cleared the family of Pakistan’s first confirmed coronavirus patient after screening.
The 22-year-old had arrived in Karachi on February 20, indicating that there were chances that the thermal screening machines at the airports for those entering the country may not have worked after all.
The machines are supposed to immediately detect higher-than-usual body temperature.
Meanwhile, Leader of the House in Senate Syed Shibli Faraz on Friday said that the National Action Plan for Coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention and management has been developed, adding that only two cases were detected so far.
Responding to point raised by the Opposition, the leader of the House said one of the cases was reported from Karachi and other one from Islamabad but both the patients were in stable condition. More than 120 samples have been tested since February 1st, he added.
Shibli Faraz said the government was on alert mode over possible spread of Novel Coronavirus from China, Iran and other COVID-19 affected countries.