CAA revises list of countries with restricted entry, as NCOC suspends interprovincial transport every weekend
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Sunday announced a ban on interprovincial transport services on the weekends—from April 10—as the government continues to expand restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In a session held at the NCOC, it was decided to ban inter-provincial transport for two days a week (Saturday and Sunday) with effect from April 10 to April 25. However, goods, freight, medical and other emergency services will be exempted,” read a statement issued by the body governing the national response to the pandemic. It noted that the restrictions would not apply on the railways, which would be allowed to continue operating seven days a week with 70 percent capacity and full adherence to SOPs.
According to the NCOC meeting, the prevailing situation would be reviewed on April 20—2 weeks from now—to determine whether the new restrictions on inter-provincial transport ban should be withdrawn or extended.
Separately, the Sindh government announced that it was suspending in-person classes for students of pre-nursery through grade 8 for two weeks, starting from April 6. In a posting on Twitter, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said the restrictions would remain in place for two weeks, adding that educational institutions could continue their coursework through online classes, homework or other means during this period.
The government said that, if needed, schools could set one day a week for parents to receive and submit homework assignments so students’ education would not be impacted.
Also on Sunday, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority revised and extended entry restrictions, as well as temporary bans, for inbound travelers of commercial, chartered and private aircraft.
According to the CAA, the new restrictions would come into effect at 1 a.m. on April 6 and remain in place until April 20. It said that there were currently 20 countries under category-A, travelers from which do not require negative PCR tests prior to commencing their journey to Pakistan. These countries include 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.
It also increased the number of countries in category C from 12 to 22—travelers from these nations are not allowed entry into Pakistan without obtaining special permission due to an emergency situation. Countries under this heading include South Africa, Botswana, Columbia, Kenya, Comoros, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Seychelles, Somalia, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Any country not in either category A or C is automatically placed under category B, and travelers from these nations require a negative PCR test secured no earlier than 72 hours prior to the start of their journey to Pakistan.
Pakistan is currently in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic that authorities have described as “far more dangerous” than the first two. The number of active cases of COVID-19 is currently 61,450—the highest since July 2020, when Pakistan’s first wave was at its peak. Similarly, the number of patients requiring critical care is now at 3,587, the highest since the coronavirus pandemic started.