Amid the strong criticism, Pakistan's government has decided to stay firm on its decision made earlier against the repatriation of stranded Pakistani citizens in virus-hit Wuhan to show "solidarity" with China. 

The Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi termed Pakistan's decision to not hastily evacuate Pakistani nationals "a vote of confidence for China."

Passengers wearing mask at the airport. Reuters

A large proportion of the Pakistanis living in China were students of which over 500 students were based in the central city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the new virus.

'A vote of confidence for China'

In a series of tweets, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China, quoted him as saying, "China will continue to ensure safety & health of Pakistani brothers & sisters & provide them with all necessary assistance."

Pak China
Pak China

The Twitter statement came in the wake of a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart.

The thread of tweet further stated, "Qureshi said, while the world has lauded China's timely & effective response, some elements are trying to create panic, which Pakistan strongly opposes.

"The government of Pakistan trusts that China is fully capable of ensuring the safety & health of foreign nationals in China." 

4 Pakistani students in China diagnosed with coronavirus

On Wednesday, January 29  the Pakistan government announced that up to four Pakistani students in China were diagnosed with the coronavirus but are in support with China.

This is what the World Health Organisation is saying, this is China's policy and this is our policy as well. We stand by China in full solidarity." - Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, Pakistan

During a press conference,  Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, Pakistan Zafar Mirza said, "We believe that right now, it is in the interest of our loved ones in China [to stay there]. It is in the larger interest of the region, world, country that we don't evacuate them now."

He added, "It (coronavirus) is now being transferred from human to human. It means that a person affected with the virus can also become a source for the transfer of the virus." 

500 Pakistani students were based in Wuhan

Coronavirus masks
A man wearing a mask prays for the victims of coronavirus. Reuters

However, refuting the idea of repatriating the citizens from the East Asian country, an official said, "Right now the government of China has contained this epidemic in Wuhan city. If we act irresponsibly and start evacuating people from there, this epidemic will spread all over the world like wildfire."

Mirza said that the embassy in China was in contact with the Pakistani citizens and once again expressed faith in China's policies to contain the virus.

He said that the decision was finalised after a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, where the latter assured that taking care of Pakistani citizens was a priority for China's government, Dawn news reported.

'Complete trust in Beijing's policies to combat the epidemic'

Mirza declared that the decision of non-repatriation of Pakistani citizens from China was final, saying that the government had "complete trust" in Beijing's policies to combat the epidemic.

Giving an update on the status of the Pakistani students who had caught the coronavirus in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, Mirza said that they had recovered as the disease was diagnosed at an early stage.

The SAPM further said that the Pakistani citizens, who are stranded in China, will not be allowed to return until they have been quarantined for 14 days and were found to be free of the disease.

As of Sunday, Chinese authorities put the toll at 304, with a total of 14,380 infected cases in the country alone.

China's death toll hits 304, over 14,000 infected

MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that caused SARS.Reuters

China's new confirmed infections from the coronavirus outbreak increased by a daily record, up by 2,590 cases on Saturday to top 14,000, as the quickly growing epidemic prompted global travel restrictions and evacuations.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China had reached 304 as of the end of Saturday, state broadcaster CCTV said on Sunday, citing the country's National Health Commission.

All the new deaths and most of the new infections on Saturday were in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the flu-like coronavirus outbreak.

China is facing mounting isolation as other countries introduce travel curbs, airlines suspend flights, and governments evacuate their citizens, risking worsening a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.