Civil Aviation Authority requires international passengers arriving in Pakistan to show tests confirming they are free of coronavirus
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority on Tuesday issued a notification of the measures it is undertaking to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in Pakistan, including requiring fresh test results from all international travelers proving they are free of COVID-19.
The notification, which is available with Newsweek Pakistan and has been forwarded to all airlines operating within the country, reiterates the National Security Committee’s direction to restrict international flights to airports in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad in a bid to enhance screening measures. It also seeks to prevent the entry of anyone infected with COVID-19.
“With effect from Saturday, March 21, 2020, all international arriving passengers to Pakistani Airports shall be required to provide a copy of test result for COVID-19 through RT-PCR conducted during the 24 hours prior to boarding the flight by a passenger,” it says, adding that all test results must include the name and passport number of the passenger.
According to the CAA, it will be the responsibility of the airline operators to ensure no passengers are allowed to board an aircraft without the test results and the test results would be an additional measure beyond the mandatory health declaration form all passengers must submit upon disembarkation in Pakistan.
The autonomous public sector body has also directed all airlines to ensure aircrafts are properly disinfected between each flight per “internationally recognized procedures.”
According to the CAA, the bar on international flights from any airport apart from Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi would expire on March 21. While this would not apply on the airports in Gawadar and Turbat, it would allow for all flight operations to resume per normal after the authorities have undertaken the “necessary infrastructure and resources to ensure proper screening of international passengers.”
The CAA notification comes as the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Pakistan has hit 235, with the majority occurring among pilgrims who were this week freed from quarantine at the Taftan border after returning from Iran two weeks ago. Islamabad maintains there is very little community spread of the virus in Pakistan, but the government has refused to test anyone with symptoms but no international travel history, raising questions about the accuracy of the data.
Globally, over 7,900 have died of COVID-19, with more than 198,000 infected. The epicenter of the disease has shifted from China, where it originated late last year, to Europe, where it is currently prompting governments to initiate lockdowns in a bid to halt its spread.