In statement, Emirates’ disaster management authority says ban will continue until Islamabad can test all departing travelers for COVID-19
The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) on Sunday announced it was suspending all inbound passenger flights from Pakistan, including transit flights, until Islamabad had implemented laboratory testing for COVID-19 for all departing travelers.
“The General Civilian Aviation Authority of the U.A.E. has announced the suspension of all inbound passenger flights, including transiting flights, from Pakistan until the country establishes a process of laboratory testing for COVID-19 for all departing travelers en route to the U.A.E.,” its National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority announced in a statement posted on Twitter.
“This is a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of all arrivals, as of Monday June 29, 2020,” it said, adding that all travelers impacted by the ban should cancel of reschedule their flights to avoid excess charges.
The blanket ban on Pakistani travelers wishing to travel to, or through, the U.A.E. follows a surge in reports from various countries that have imported new infections of the novel coronavirus from Pakistan.
On June 24, Emirates Airlines announced it was temporarily suspending its passenger services from Pakistan after around 30 Pakistanis who had traveled to Hong Kong aboard a June 22 Emirates flight tested positive for COVID-19. It had then announced it would accept tests from authorized private labs, but the blanket ban means all operations must now remain suspended apart from flights returning stranded Pakistanis, special flights and cargo.
Similarly, South Korea has announced it would restrict visas to, and flights from, Pakistan and Bangladesh following a surge in novel coronavirus cases from travelers arriving from the two countries.
The European Union has also issued a draft list of countries it would lift travel restrictions from in July. The list does not include countries with rising cases of COVID-19, including the U.S. and Pakistan.
In a bid to deflect blame, Special Assistant to the P.M. on National Security Mooed Yusuf last week announced Pakistan would start to “medically screen”—issue questionnaires and take temperatures—all outbound travelers but had stopped short of requiring COVID-19 tests. The U.A.E. announcement means this measure has not been deemed sufficient to ensure the safety of crew and passengers.
Pakistan, despite claiming to have curbed the virus through “smart lockdowns,” continues to report a positivity ratio above 16 percent. The World Health Organization has strongly advised against easing lockdown restrictions if a country’s positivity ratio of tests conducted is above 5 percent.