PESHAWAR: In an alarming development, 23 Pakistani nationals arriving in Pakistan during the last two days have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
The tests of as many as 128 suspected patients were conducted upon return from Afghanistan and 23 of them came back as positive. The return process of Pakistani nationals from Afghanistan started on April 17 through Torkham border who were made to stay at Landikotal and Jamrud quarantine centres.
The district administration of Khyber tribal district said 700 people had returned during the first two days of opening of the border. So far, tests of 108 Pakistani nationals arriving from Afghanistan have been conducted, while the tests of others will also be conducted soon.
Deputy Commissioner Mehmood Aslam said the affected persons are transporters who hail from different areas of the country.
Hundreds of Pakistani nationals were stranded in Afghanistan for the last many days since the closure of borders by Pakistan to stop the spread of coronavirus. After the Pakistan government allowed Afghan refugees to go home and opened border for them, the Pakistani nationals in Afghanistan also demanded permission to come back to Pakistan.
On April 16, the Pakistan government allowed the stranded Pakistani nationals in Afghanistan to come back home. It was decided that those coming from Afghanistan will be kept in quarantine for seven days.
Additional Assistant Commissioner Shamsul Islam said the civil administration, security forces and local police made fool-proof arrangements to protect the passengers and local population from coronavirus. He said every single person entering Pakistan from Afghanistan was checked, screened under the government standard operating procedures and then they were sent to quarantine centres under strict security. He said the vehicles were parked in Hamza Baba ground and sprayed with disinfectants.
The additional assistant commissioner said all the people in the quarantine will be given breakfast and two-time meals. He said those with positive cases will be provided treatment at isolation wards, while those clearing the tests will be sent home.
Local sources said when the Pakistani nationals arrived from Afghanistan, the administration officials, security forces, police and local elders welcomed them and inquired about their wellbeing.