A family waits at the Dubai International Airport before leaving to Pakistan. AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf told a news conference that the Sialkot and Quetta airports were being operationalised to manage the increasing number of returning passengers.
"We are going to implement more flexible policy this time and the condition to wait for 48 hours to get tested is abolished. However, the overseas Pakistanis will get tested as soon as possible where no cut short timeline could be given for getting tested and going back to homes,” Yusuf said.
"It has been decided after consultations with the health experts. The provinces are given the right to home-quarantine those getting positive tests with showing no symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. The provinces will send the positive patients to their districts to get treatment closer to their hometowns.”
He said the government had scaled up its capacity to repatriate more than 11,000 stranded Pakistanis per week or 10 days, on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan. "The main impediment in bringing back the overseas Pakistanis is the country’s existing testing and quarantine capacity,” he added.
Yusuf said around 7,000-8,000 overseas Pakistanis were repatriated in the past 10 days, Yusuf said. The data of all passengers since April 4 was thoroughly analysed and it had been noted that the positive ratio of COVID-19 patients was more than the projections, he added.
"At present, 20,000 overseas Pakistanis have been repatriated and over 110,000 more want to come back. Around 11,000-12,000 will be repatriated per week or within 10 days in the coming week,” he said and added that in case of the positive ratio increases then the decision could be reversed.
"From today till May 21 as many as 10,710 overseas Pakistanis will be brought back from 22 countries-mainly from the Gulf countries,” Yusuf said, adding that the government was considering to make Sialkot and Quetta airports operational to manage the increasing number of passengers.
He said the foreign ministry had contacted the Gulf countries and raised the issues of high number of positive passengers offloaded. "It has been decided to conduct tests of the overseas Pakistanis first in their respective Gulf country and then they will be retested here in Pakistan,” he added.
This is the first time Pakistan’s national flag carrier will be operating direct flights to the US. Hafeez said before the 9/11 attacks, PIA planes did not have the capacity to fly directly to the US, which is why they had to make a stop somewhere.
Passenger Zafar Iqbal told The Associated Press that the flight crew consoled passengers when the plane made unusual noises and "when the plane landed at the Karachi airport, then the crew shared only this information that there was a fault in a part of the plane but we safely landed.”
On April 19, PIA flight PK-8220 will depart for Dubai from Islamabad, while PIA’s return flight PK-8221 will arrive at Multan airport from Dubai on the same day. The PIA flight PK-8223 will go from Islamabad to Dubai and will depart from Dubai to Faisalabad on April 19.
Millions of rupees have been spent by the government on transportation, lodging and provision of food to Pakistanis who came back since the outbreak of the coronavirus and are being kept at quarantine centres in the federal capital.
This significant endeavour, initiated in mid-July 2022, utilised environmentally friendly materials to ensure water quality, while effectively catering to the growing demand for freshwater in the region.
The law binds NAB, which is an autonomous anti-corruption body, to inform — whoever it is summoning — whether they are being summoned as an accused or a witness to record the statement, The News reported.
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a message of congratulations to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark on the occasion of her country's National Day.
The disaster struck on Friday, when a passenger train hit a stationary freight train, jumped the tracks and hit another passenger train passing in the opposite direction near the district of Balasore, in the eastern state of Odisha.