By: Chandrashekar Bhat
PAKISTAN has banned travel from 15 countries and tightened up travel restrictions on 13 other nations amid the threat of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Pakistan’s top coronavirus response agency, reviewed the Covid-19 situation across the globe to revise the categorisation of travel.
According to an NCOC statement on Monday (6), the agency revised categories based on disease profiles and health protocols applicable to travellers from different countries. Countries have been placed in three categories – A, B and C.
Category ‘C’ includes 15 countries: Croatia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Ireland, Slovenia, Vietnam, Poland, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
A “complete ban on inbound travel from Category C countries” has been imposed but essential travel from these countries would necessitate obtaining an exemption certificate, it said.
Pakistan will allow travel only with 100 per cent vaccination for all inbound passengers and those aged above six years are required to have negative PCR test reports (maximum 48 hours old) before boarding.
However, deportees are exempted from the PCR test report requirement.
All travellers aged six years or above have to undergo rapid antigen tests (RATs) on arrival even if travelling via direct or indirect flights from Category ‘C’ countries. RAT negative cases will be allowed to proceed.
However, RAT negative travellers from South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia will have to undergo three days of mandatory quarantine followed by a PCR test to be conducted on the third day by the civil administration. RAT positive cases will be quarantined for 10 days.
The NCOC placed Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, the US, the UK, Thailand, France, Austria, Afghanistan and Turkey in category B. Travellers from these countries should be fully vaccinated.
All passengers aged six years or above are required to have negative PCR test reports (maximum 48 hours old) before boarding, but deportees are exempted from the PCR test requirement.
RAT of random flights will be conducted at airports on arrival from Category ‘B’ countries. RAT negative cases will be allowed to proceed but RAT positive cases will be quarantined for 10 days.
All other countries not included in Category ‘C’ and ‘B’ are placed in Category ‘A’. Travellers should be 100 per cent vaccinated. All those aged six years and above should be in possession of a negative PCR test report (maximum 48 hours old) before boarding. But deportees are exempted from PCR test requirements.
All Pakistan nationals can travel from Category ‘C’ countries without exemption till December 15 but testing protocols will be mandatory on arrival.