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Omicron: Pakistan bans inbound travel from six countries

Pakistanis allowed to return without restrictions till Dec 5

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 27, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Nov 27, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

Photo: AFP

The reports of rapidly mutated Covid variant Omicron have caused alarm in Pakistan and the monitoring body, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), has announced a ban on inbound travel from South Africa, five other African countries, and Hong Kong.

According to the notification, a complete ban has been imposed, with immediate effect, on inbound travel from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana and Hong Kong.

Consequent to the emergence of the Omicron strain in South Africa, these countries had been placed in category C.

People from the category C countries can travel to Pakistan only under specific NCOC guidelines, the notification added.

Travel from these seven territories would be allowed only “on extreme emergency” and the travellers will be required to follow health and testing protocols which include

  • Vaccination certificate
  • Negative PCR report
  • Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on arrival

Pakistani travellers from these countries, till December 5, will be allowed without restrictions but with certain conditions. The above-mentioned protocols will remain in place.

‘Urgent to vaccinate’

Earlier, the NCOC chief and Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umer stressed on all eligible citizens to get “vaccinated urgently”.

“Based on the emergence of the new Covid variant, notification has been issued [to] restrict travel from six South African countries and Hong Kong,” he tweeted.

According to data shared by NCOC, Pakistan has administered over 120 million Covid jabs since the vaccination drive began in February this year.

At least 80 million people have received the first jab while 49,010,906 citizens have been fully vaccinated.

‘Highly transmissible variant’

The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s advisory panel has classified the new variant as “highly transmissible”.

Omicron has been put into the most troubling category of coronavirus variants after Delta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.

Several countries rushed to ban flights to slow the spread of Omicron. The stock markets and oil prices plunged on fears surrounding the variant, potentially dealing a heavy blow to the global economic recovery.

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