Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Gulf Today Report
Pakistan decided to cut international flights by 80% to control the coronavirus spread in the country, the official body overseeing the country's pandemic response said on Saturday.
“Amid high disease prevalence in various parts of the world and current disease situation in the country with corresponding extreme stress on the critical care system. Pakistan has decided to significantly reduce inbound International Air Travel from 5 May 5 to May 20," said the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC), which oversees the government's pandemic response, on Twitter.
It was not immediately clear which routes and air carriers would be affected. The NCOC added the decision would be reviewed on May 18.
Inbound air traffic will operate at 20% of the total current quantum, while there is no change in the existing Category C list countries.
“Pakistani passport holders (stranded/short term visa) are allowed to travel to Pakistan subject to exemption by the committee as per procedures in vogue,” the NCOC statement read.
All inbound travellers to Pakistan, including those from the Category C list countries, must have a negative repeat PCR test before travelling to Pakistan (maximum 72 hours old) while a rapid antigen test will be done on arrival at the airport.
Negative cases will undergo 10 days of self-quarantine at home with stringent TTO protocols.
The statement said positive cases will be shifted by the provincial/ district administration to a self-paid facility for 10 days quarantine with TTO of contacts (if any) and a repeat PCR test will be conducted on the 8th day of the quarantine period.
In case of a negative result, the passenger will be allowed to proceed home. However, in case of a positive result, the passenger will either undergo an additional quarantine period or be shifted to hospital as per the advice of health authorities.
The NCOC stated that registration on the Passtrack App by all inbound travellers before travelling to Pakistan is mandatory, however, deportees are exempted from registration on the app.
Pakistan has seen record deaths in recent days from the coronavirus, and stricter restrictions on movement and gathering in public are planned for the upcoming Eid holiday. Officials are worried the country's health care system, already under strain, could reach breaking point if more contagious variants of the virus begin to spread, as has happened in neighbouring India.
On Saturday authorities reported 4,696 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and 146 deaths from the disease.
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