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Pakistan to review condition seeking coronavirus test copies at airports

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 19, 2020 | Last Updated: 4 months ago
Posted: Mar 19, 2020 | Last Updated: 4 months ago
Pakistan to review condition seeking coronavirus test copies at airports

Photo: AFP

The federal government is going to review its order that made mandatory for international passengers arriving in Pakistan to provide a copy of test results for COVID-19 at the airport, the aviation minister confirmed to SAMAA Digital.

On March 17, the Civil Aviation Authority issued an order asking the passengers to provide their test results at Pakistani airports. The result must include the name and passport number of the passenger. The decision, the authority had said, will come into effect from March 21.

“The prime minister has convened a meeting of the National Security Committee tomorrow (Friday) and it (the new CAA order) will be on the agenda… it will be discussed and a decision will be taken,” Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told SAMAA Digital.

When asked if the CAA order has been suspended, the minister said: “So far, I can’t comment on it. It will be decided in the meeting tomorrow.”

The virus has killed two people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and infected over 380 people across the country. The provincial and federal health departments have already deputed their teams at the airports to screen the arriving passengers.

The government came under criticism from overseas Pakistanis who say the coronavirus test is expensive in some countries and it should not be a requirement for passengers without symptoms.

Hospitals in some US states are reportedly charging $1300 to $1500 for the COVID-19 test.

“An average Pakistani man working at a superstore or fuel pump earns $600 per week and then there is tax,” Amir Shehzad, a Pakistani working at the New York airport, told SAMAA Digital. “It would be very difficult for a Pakistani national to fulfill the requirement.”

The federal government has already limited international flight operations to airports in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad only.

A CAA official, requesting anonymity, termed the government’s decision “foolish” but said the passengers will have to give a copy of the instructions because it is mandatory now.

“Many countries have already suspended their international flight operations and hundreds of passengers are stuck at airports,” he said. “The new rules will make their lives more difficult.”

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  1. Usman Naeem  March 19, 2020 9:11 pm/ Reply

    It is not just the price, here in Canada, the test will not be conducted for someone who does not have symptoms. The clinics have stopped dealing with walk-in and visitors do not have the facility of family doctors. Getting a test done without the symptoms is virtually impossible here.

  2. Hamza Gohar  March 20, 2020 8:57 pm/ Reply

    This is absolutely ridiculous, firstly a patient with no symptoms is told they can’t get the test done because of limited resources saved only for people with symptoms, secondly, the test takes more than one day to produce results hence it is impossible to get the test done 24 hours before departure and have the results by then. I have a flight tomorrow and I am a student here in Canada who is stranded without any money. All the money I had, I spent on my ticket to go back home and now this stupid law is going to punish me for staying safe and away from the virus by following all precautions and guidelines.

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