ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal pandemic response body, the National Command and Operation Centre, has revised its travel policy for people returning to Pakistan from the United Kingdom via direct and indirect flights, local media reported, mandating a rapid antigen COVID-19 test upon arrival in Pakistan.
The decision comes as Britain has reported record levels of COVID-19 cases over the past week, with officials and ministers warning that hospitalisations are also rising.
Fears are also rising over omicron infections, which are multiplying rapidly across Europe and the United States, doubling every two or three days in London and elsewhere and taking a heavy toll on financial markets.
The omicron variant was first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong and so far has been reported in at least 89 countries. The severity of illness it causes remains unclear.
Under its new guidelines, the NCOC has made it mandatory for passengers to undergo a rapid antigen COVID-19 test upon arrival from the UK. Travelers will also have to carry a vaccination certificate and negative coronavirus test results from 48 hours before boarding the flight.
The NCOC has also instructed the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority “to adjust direct flights from the UK to provide passengers time to conduct rapid COVID tests at the airport,” Samaa reported.
Around 270 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Pakistan in the last 24 hours, with four deaths. More than 61 million people in a population of 220 million have so far been fully vaccinated in Pakistan.
Due to an increasing number of the Omicron variant COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom, the National Command and Operation Authority (NCOC) announced Monday a new travel policy for passengers travelling directly from the United Kingdom to Pakistan.
According to the revised policy, all passengers arriving from the UK via direct or indirect flights will undergo a rapid antigen (RAT) test upon arrival, in addition to the mandatory vaccination and negative PCR test pre-boarding protocols already in place (max 48 hours old), says NCOC Deputy Director Abdul Qadeer Awan.
The NCOC has requested that PCAA adjust direct flights from the UK (if deemed necessary) to provide a sufficient time gap for airports to conduct 100% RAT.
The centre has urged concerned authorities to take appropriate action and expeditiously disseminate the information.
NCOC lowers age limit for COVID-19 booster jabs
The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) announced on Monday a decision to lower the age limit for the administration of COVID-19 booster jabs.
Individuals aged 30 years and above are now eligible for the administration of a COVID-19 booster dose and can get a booster shot of their own choice from January 1, 2022, a statement issued by the principal body governing the policies and implementation of the national COVID-19 effort of Pakistan.
The forum also released the latest vaccination statistics, saying 713,582 people were vaccinated overnight, pushing the country’s tally of vaccinated individuals to 141,509,339, which constitutes 58% of Pakistan’s population.