Islamabad, March 13 (IANS) Pakistan has hinted at working with neighbouring countries, including India, to deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has now spread to over 100 countries and has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The number of coronavirus cases both from India and Pakistan were 73 and 20, respectively, but the WHO and health experts warned that the pandemic could spread quickly if adequate measures were not in place to contain it. India on Thursday reported its first death from the disease.

Responding to a question at her weekly news briefing as to whether Pakistan would work with neighbouring countries including India to contain the virus, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said Islamabad was ready to extend assistance to neighbours, reports The Express Tribune.

“The government of Pakistan is monitoring the situation very closely and will take measures required for the citizens within Pakistan and any assistance we can provide to our neighbouring countries,” the spokesperson added.

To a question why Pakistan, like, other countries was not taking strict measures such as travel advisories to contain the virus, the spokesperson said each nation was taking measures in order to ensure safety of their citizens.

“It is the primary responsibility of those countries to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Pakistan is also taking all the requisite steps at our borders and airports to ensure the safety of our people and control the spread of the coronavirus,” The Express Tribune quoted Farooqui as saying.

Aisha denied reports that Pakistan closed its consular section and consulate in Herat, Afghanistan due to the outbreak.

“Pakistan Consulate in Herat has been closed for 15 days for administrative reasons. Similarly, the consular section of Pakistan Embassy in Kabul has also been closed for a few days for administrative reasons,” she added.

–IANS

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