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‘Only Asymptomatic People Will be Allowed to Travel’

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Special Assistant to the P.M. on Overseas Pakistanis says government trying best to repatriate vulnerable citizens stranded abroad

All travelers wishing to return to Pakistan will be medically screened before boarding their flights, said Special Assistant to the P.M. on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfikar Bukhari, adding that only passengers with no symptoms of the novel coronavirus will be allowed to travel.

Discussing the government’s plans to repatriate Pakistanis stranded overseas due to the travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bukhari told Radio Pakistan that all flights would be required to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to curb the spread of the virus.

“We have not opened up our flight operations completely,” he said, adding that the government was trying its best to bring back the maximum number of vulnerable Pakistanis who were currently stuck abroad.

According to the special assistant, hundreds of thousands of Pakistani workers and students are currently stuck in various countries. He said that many overseas Pakistanis working abroad, especially in Middle Eastern countries, had lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and were facing great difficulty in surviving. “We were bringing back around 10-14,000 stranded people a week [until now], which was not enough to meet the demand of people that need to come back,” he added.

Bukhari said the government’s decision to increase the facilitation of Pakistanis stranded abroad was taken on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said the government was harnessing all available resources and capabilities to facilitate the phased-wise return of Pakistanis stranded abroad.

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