Pakistan bans travel from 6 countries over Omicron fears

News Desk
Sunday, Nov 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday banned inbound travel — both direct and indirect — from six southern African countries and Hong Kong over fears of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in South Africa.

The countries include South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana, the NCOC said on Twitter. It said the decision was made “due to threat of new variant”. “The countries have been included in Category C and a complete ban has been imposed on direct / indirect inbound travel from these countries with immediate effect,” the NCOC said.

In an attached document to the tweet, the NCOC said the move came consequent to the emergence of the Omicron variant in South Africa and its spread to adjoining regions.

It also said Pakistani passengers travelling from these countries on “extreme emergency” will only be allowed after obtaining exemptions and following health / testing protocols will be ensured for these passengers. They will require vaccination certificate; negative PCR report (max 72 hours old) before boarding and a rapid antigen test on arrival at airport. RAT negative cases will undergo three days mandatory home quarantine and “re-RAT” will be conducted on three day by civil administration.

RAT positive cases will undergo 10 days mandatory quarantine (government /self-paid) and PCR test will be conducted on the 10th day in quarantine.

However, to facilitate stranded Pakistanis, travel from these countries till December 5 will be allowed without exemption but above-mentioned health / testing protocols will remain applicable.

The NCOC statement also has directives for Aviation Division / Airport Management / ASF. It asked them to devise a mechanism for screening of passengers travelling from above mentioned countries through indirect flights and share with all concerned by November 29.

In a follow-up tweet, the NCOC said: “Due to emergence of new variant ‘Omicron’ in various countries, it is imperative to follow SOPs seriously. Please ensure that your vaccination is complete (both doses in case of two dose vaccine), wear mask and isolate yourself / get tested in case of any symptoms! Stay Safe!!!”

The fourth wave of the coronavirus — driven by the Delta variant which originated in India — has just waned in the country of 220 million, as daily infections remain below 500 and deaths in the single digits. The positivity ratio also hovers below 1 per cent.

Pakistan’s cumulative infections now number 1,283,886, with the death toll at 28,704. Pakistan has so administered more than 122 million doses of Covid vaccines.