Islamabad: Pakistan has designated an area in the garrison city of Rawalpindi to quarantine those passengers arriving at Islamabad International Airport suspected of carrying the novel coronavirus.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza, said the Haj Complex has been designated following approval by Prime Minister Imran Khan and with support of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Speaking to Gulf News on Saturday, Dr Salma, of the Public Health Laboratories of the National Institute of Health (NIH), said a quarantine didn’t necessarily require all the infrastructure or equipment of a hospital or semi-hospital.

“It is in fact a place for healthy persons who are kept temporarily for a specific period and to ascertain whether they are carriers of the virus or not,” Dr Salman said.

“However, we will arrange basic diagnostic facilities for the suspected cases and they will be kept under vigilance there,” he said.

So far, the official added, samples of 76 suspected cases arriving from China were sent to NIH labs and all of them tested negative.

A day earlier, Dr Mirza had said the National Action Plan against the deadly virus was being implemented and isolation wards for patients had been established across the country.

He said no case of coronavirus had so far been reported in Pakistan, and strict monitoring was being maintained at all airports, where dedicated public health teams and airport health officials screen people arriving in the country from abroad.

The Punjab government too has set up a 30-bed coronavirus quarantine at the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology and trained paramedical staff and doctors to be deputed there.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the government to appoint a focal person to facilitate the parents and relatives of the Pakistani students stranded in China amid the coronavirus outbreak.

While hearing a petition — filed by parents of Pakistanis studying in China — seeking the court’s directions for the government to bring the students back, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah directed the government to appoint a liaison officer between the patents and the government and evolve a mechanism for direct interaction of parents with their children in the virus-hit country.

Justice Minallah wondered why unlike other countries, the Pakistan government was not bringing back those citizens who were not affected by coronavirus, saying the students who sent emails to the IHC were not among the virus-affected people.

During the hearing, Federal Secretary Health Dr Allah Baksh Malik and an official of the foreign ministry appeared before the court.

Justice Minallah said the Pakistani students themselves had reached out to the court for help and students had contacted the court via email, stating that no one was contacting or helping them.

According to the embassy of China in Islamabad, around 10,000 Pakistani students and nationals are currently living in China.