Pakistan relaxes quarantine period for inbound air passengers - GulfToday

Pakistan relaxes quarantine period for inbound air passengers


A family waits at the Dubai International Airport before leaving to Pakistan. AFP

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

The government has relaxed its policy regarding the repatriation of stranded Pakistanis, allowing immediate coronavirus tests upon landing in the country, as it scaled up its capacity to bring back more than 11,000 citizens this week.

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.

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