The NCOC revises the inbound air/land travel categories with an immediate effect.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has placed strict restrictions on travellers from 26 countries including India, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia and South Africa by placing them in C category.
Meanwhile, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, has feared that Pakistan might face a fourth wave of coronavirus due to emerging variants, and directed all district administrations to expedite the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
In the meantime, with the list of prerequisites expanding for air travellers during the pandemic, a negative COVID-19 test result has become the golden entry ticket for many.
It not only allows passengers to clear the strict screening process on arrival, but also enables them to circumvent the lengthy quarantine rules.
Just how easy is it to acquire a negative report before a trip? Several passengers arriving at Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport (BKIA) have been caught red handed with doctored polymerase chain reaction or PCR test reports.
In a separate development, the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals has fallen by around 60 per cent, with the positivity ratio remaining below 4 per cent.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) said Pakistan had introduced three categories to deal with COVID-19.
"Countries in A category are exempted from the mandatory COVID-19 test, travellers from areas in B category require a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that must be taken within 72 hours of the travel date while countries in C category are restricted and people can travel only under specific NCOC guidelines.”
The NCOC revised the inbound air/land travel categories with an immediate effect.
Officials mentioned India, Iran, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Iraq, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Tunisia, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Namibia, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Uruguay in the C category list.
All other countries have been included in B category and passengers from these countries will be required to present a negative PCR test result.
A BKIA Peshawar official said forged results can be purchased from some laboratories. "They simply replace the barcode on the report with that of someone who recently tested negative.”
The Sindh health minister expressed concern that the health situation might get critical again as new coronavirus variants had been reported in the country including Delta (Indian) variant.
"All stakeholders should be taken on board to expedite the COVID-19 vaccination drive, particularly the industrial sector, and informed that the government might opt for another lockdown if coronavirus cases increase.
To avoid this situation, everyone should get vaccinated against the virus,” she noted.
The COVID-19 has killed 56 more people and 1,239 new positive cases of the infection have been reported in the country during the last 24 hours.
According to the latest figures released by the National Command and Operation Centre, 36,368 tests were conducted in a day.
The national tally of total active COVID-19 cases was 42,290 while 1,610 people recovered from the disease during the last 24 hours.
Among the dead, 52 of whom were under treatment in the hospitals and four out of the hospitals had died in their respective quarantines or homes, according to the latest update.
During the past 24 hours, most of the deaths have occurred in Punjab followed by Sindh.
Out of the total 56 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, 22 of them had died who were under treatment on ventilators.
There were 2,661 COVID-19 infected patients under treatment in critical care in various coronavirus dedicated healthcare facilities in the past 24 hours.
The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Peshawar 20 per cent, Lahore 24 per cent, Bahawalpur 24 per cent and Multan 45 per cent.
The maximum Oxygen beds (alternate oxygen providing facility other than ventilator administered as per medical requirement of COVID-19 patients) were also occupied in four major areas of Gilgit 30 per cent, Abbottabad 30 per cent, Karachi 26 per cent and Multan 26 per cent.
The order comes a day after Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, reported that its COVID-19 positivity ratio, or the rate of positive cases out of all tests conducted, rose to 21% compared with a national rate of 2.8%.
The PIA flight, PK 702, from Manchester to Islamabad was delayed by seven hours. The departure was delayed on Friday night when a passenger erroneously opened the emergency exit causing the emergency chute to activate.
Abu Dhabi has issued fresh guidelines for attending events in the emirate.
The murder of 25-year-old computer science student Al Walid Al Gharbi took place last Monday inside a house in Building No. 300 on Hansberry St, Philadelphia, when they found the young man with a stab wound in the neck in the bathroom on the third floor.
“The deliberate shelling of active civilian medical facilities and the targeted killing of civilians are grave war crimes of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
The typing centres affirmed that the entry permit application was activated since last Friday and covered all types of residence visas, noting that the holder of a UAE residence visa who stayed abroad for more than 6 months can apply for the entry permit.
Jabal Jais in Ras Al Khaimah recorded the lowest temperature of 1.9°C at 4:15 am on Sunday. Jabal Al Rahba in RAK also recorded 4.2°C. and Jabal Mabrah recorded 4.6 °C, while Rukna in the city of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi, recorded 6.7°C.