Dr Asad Majeed Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to the US, and his wife bid farewell to the students at the Dulles Airport. Twitter photo
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The government has granted permission to overseas Pakistanis to bring the bodies of COVID-19 victims home but after strictly following the guidelines issued by the health ministry and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to avoid the spread of infections.
Aviation Division’s spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar said that the government has allowed the overseas Pakistanis to bring the bodies of COVID-19 victims back home but after following the guidelines of the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination.
A special flight arranged by the US government departed for Lahore carrying around 150 Pakistani students.
He said that so far no such body has been airlifted to Pakistan from abroad. However, two such requests have been made from France and Barcelona. The body should be enclosed in a sealed coffin in compliance with the airlines’ rules and regulations.
Under the guidelines, anyone coming in contact with the body must ensure the standard preventive measures, including hand washing and disinfection pre- and post-interaction with the body.
Minimum number of staff should be involved in handling and transferring of the body and they should wear appropriate personal protective equipment, long-sleeved fluid resistant gown, gloves, face shield or goggles, N95 mask and boots.
The environmental surfaces or waiting rooms where the body was kept before transferring to the aircraft should be disinfected and cleaned properly. While air transporting, the body should be wrapped in two clothes soaked in 10 per cent formalin solution.
Meanwhile, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) special flight carrying 380 passengers has departed for Barcelona from Islamabad International Airport. Before boarding the aircraft, all passengers were subjected to scanning and health check. Besides, the aircraft was also disinfected. The PIA flight will return to Islamabad carrying the Pakistanis stranded in Spain.
Fearful of the economic and financial impact, and swayed by the acute hardship suffered by millions of poor families, Prime Minister Imran Khan has defended the lifting of the lockdown last week, saying the virus spread has been well below projections.
The first Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flight carrying 84 passengers departed from Karachi for Lahore at 1300 local time (0800 GMT), along with flights for Lahore and Islamabad operated by a private airline, local media reported.
The Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flight with 227 passengers, mostly from Dubai and Northern Emirates, were lucky to get seat confirmation earlier and boarded the flight which left Dubai around 7pm local time.
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
The Committee explained that the new guidelines take into account the exceptional situations of some categories of people including people of determination, children, and those with chronic respiratory conditions.
The UAE will today (Monday) start receiving residents with valid residence visas, who were stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic from various countries.