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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Sunday that it had acquired nearly 1,000 coronavirus testing kits from its all-weather ally China to boost the country’s capability of diagnosing the disease which has claimed over 300 lives.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza took to Twitter to share the development in the wake of concerns that Pakistan lacked capacity to test the deadly virus. “We have now capability of diagnosing coronarivus in Pakistan. I want to applaud our NIH (National Institute of Health) leadership and team for their hard work in securing the reagent for diagnosing,” Mirza tweeted.

At least 1,000 testing kits arrived from China, boosting Pakistan’s efforts to tackle the disease, the health officials said, adding that no Pakistani national has contracted the virus. Initially, the tests will be carried out only at the NIH in Islamabad but later on the facility will be expanded to other parts of the country.

Pakistan has more than 28,000 students in China, including 500 in the worst-hit city of Wuhan. Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi on Sunday said that the Pakistani students should not be evacuated from Wuhan as medical facilities back home did not meet the standards required to treat a patient diagnosed with coronavirus.

Hashmi’s remarks came a day after Mirza said the government will not bring its citizens back despite multiple requests from the students and their families for immediate evacuation. Pakistan had suspended all flights to China and also developed system to check the passengers from China and quarantine the suspected patients.

Pakistan on Sunday sent medical supplies to Wuhan. Among the supplies were 0.3 million medical masks, 800 hazmat suits and 6,800 pairs of medical gloves, the Radio Pakistan reported.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed 305 people and infected 14,562. The Philippines on Sunday reported the first death outside China from the epidemic that has spread to 25 countries, including India, the US, the UK and Russia. In China, all the deaths have been reported in central Hubei Province – the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

The virus was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on January 31. PTI