Pakistan joins global travel bans as Omicron sparks alarm

The Nation  |  Nov 28, 2021

| Travel ban imposed on flights from 6 African states, Hong Kong | Omicron coronavirus variant detected in Britain, Czeck Republic, Germany, Netherlands | Emergence of new variant makes it even more urgent to vaccinate all citizens: Asad Umar

ISLAMABAD  -  The government Saturday decided to impose travel restrictions for six South African countries and Hong Kong immediately in the wake of emergence of new variant of COVID-19.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar in a tweet on Saturday said that a notification regarding travel restrictions was issued. He said emergence of new variant makes it even more urgent to vaccinate all citizens 12 years and older.

“Due to threat of new variant, the six African countries have also been included in Category C and complete ban has been imposed on direct / indirect inbound travel from these countries with immediate effect. These states include South Africa, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana,” said the NCOC on Saturday.

Ex-Liverpool, Atletico Madrid winger Maxi Rodriguez announces retirement The NCOC 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. The protocols include vaccination certificate, negative PCR report (max 72 hours old) before boarding, and RAT on arrival at airport.

The NCOC said RAT negative cases will undergo three-day mandatory home quarantine and re-RAT will be conducted on their third day by civil administration. RAT positive cases will undergo 10-day mandatory quarantine (government/self paid) and PCR test will be conducted on 10th day in quarantine. However, to facilitate stranded Pakistanis, travel from these countries till December 5, 21 will be allowed without exemption but above-mentioned health/testing protocols will remain applicable.

The NCOC has directed the Aviation Division / Airport Management / ASF to devise a mechanism for screening of passengers travelling from these countries through indirect flights and share with all concerned by November 28, 21.

Pakistan Bar Council restores former IHC judge Shaukat Siddiqui's license Countries around the world have restricted travel from southern African countries in an effort to contain a new variant of Covid-19, Omicron. In a statement, the World Health Organization said that Omicron has an increased re-infection risk.

The statement said the number of cases of this variant appeared to be increasing in almost all of South Africa’s provinces. This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.

The WHO said it would take a few weeks to understand the impact of the new variant, as scientists worked to determine how transmissible it was.

The United States, Britain and other countries that have announced travel restrictions and measures include Australia, Japan, Iran, Canada, Thailand Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia have also announced restrictions including suspension of flights to and from the South Africa states.

Anyone arriving in UK must take PCR test: Boris Johnson Prime Minister Boris Johnson Saturday said Covid case numbers have remained relatively high but there have been falling cases and deaths. However, the new Covid variant, Omicron, means England must bring in “targeted and proportionate measures now as a precaution,” he added.

Omicron coronavirus variant has been detected in several countries including Britain, Czeck Republic, Germany and Netherlands. Many countries have imposed restrictions on travel from southern Africa in an effort to stop its spread.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious than previous variants of the disease.

Travellers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg as several countries including Pakistan has banned flights from South Africa. The United Kingdom Saturday confirmed its first two cases of the new Omicron strain of coronavirus, both linked to travel from southern Africa.

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