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Pakistan Bans Incoming Travel from 12 Countries

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Farooq Naeem—AFP

Civil Aviation Authority says restrictions imposed to curb spread of coronavirus will remain in place until April 5

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Saturday issued a notification revising its list of countries categorized A, B, or C, imposing a complete ban on inbound travel from 12 countries in a bid to curb the spread of mutated strains of the novel coronavirus.

“Conveyed by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), there will be a complete travel ban on inbound travel to Pakistan from category C countries, including withdrawal of exemptions earlier provided to Pakistani passport holders, NICOP holders and POC holders. The temporary measure is being introduced in continuation to the steps being taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan,” read the notification. It said the new restrictions would remain in effect from March 23 to April 5.

Under the new guidelines, the list of Category C countries now comprises Botswana, Brazil, Columbia, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. “International travel to Pakistan from Category-C countries mentioned is restricted and only allowed as per guidelines of the NCOC,” read the notification. Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan had earlier announced that travel from these countries was being banned in a bid to stem the spread of mutated strains of COVID-19 that had been identified in them.

Meanwhile, the list of Category A countries, which require no COVID-19 test prior to entry, now comprises Australia, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam.

According to an earlier notification, Pakistan has divided all countries into three categories, with those designated ‘C’ facing a complete ban on inbound travel unless a special waiver has been granted by the government in line with guidelines issued by the NCOC. Countries designated ‘A’ do not require any COVID-19 tests prior to entry into Pakistan. Any country that is not designated ‘A’ or ‘C’ is automatically placed into category ‘B’ and travelers from those nations require a negative PCR test secured no earlier than 72 hours prior to commencement of their journey into Pakistan.

The U.K., where a more infectious and deadlier strain of the COVID-19 was identified last year—and is believed to be the driving force behind the ongoing third wave of the pandemic in Pakistan—has been shifted from category C to category B.

Pakistan’s national positivity ratio last week spiked from around 4.5 percent to over 9 percent, raising fears of mounting pressure on the country’s health infrastructure. Senior officials have urged citizens to continue adopting SOPs and maintaining social distancing to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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