- Pakistani students there must be brought home
The appeal on social media of some Pakistani students to be brought back home can easily be dismissed as an outburst from young people who want to come home to their mommies. However, it should not. Young people who have gone abroad to study have to face greater problems than the absence of home cooking. The culture is different, as is the language, and thus the educational system, not to forget the myriad problems posed by hostel life, from laundry to food. Neither the kids nor their parents think of the risk of death. That seems to be facing the 500 or so Pakistani students in Wuhan, a small, but by no means negligible, portion of the 28,000 students in that country as a whole.
Though all travel from Wuhan has been forbidden, the Beijing Embassy must exert all efforts to extract all citizens, including students, from the whole country, and repatriate them. China now has 5924 cases and 132 deaths, and the rest of the world over 82 cases, making the coronavirus epidemic already more deadly than the SARS virus epidemic of 2003. Among the consequences of the epidemic has been the decline in stocks and oil prices, as the Chinese economy, the biggest in the world, begins to sputter.
Pakistan must go further than it has in preparing for the epidemic, which has already arrived. Quarantine wards will have to be set up, and further steps will have to be taken to reduce the spread into the general population than merely preventative measures for airport immigration staff. Necessary technical information should be obtained from the Chinese health authorities, especially about the incubation period, which is key to determining how long travellers need be kept in quarantine, as well as the epidemiology and the treatment methods. Pakistan can show no greater support for such a friendly country than to take care of its own citizens at home, rather than leaving them to the Chinese healthcare system, excellent as it might be. The government should remember that its citizens are its own responsibility, not that of any other state. The kids must be brought home.