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New SOPs bring back Covid test for air travellers


KARACHI:

The new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for coronavirus have resulted in the return of the mandatory Covid-19 test for air travellers coming to Pakistan, as the country has witnessed a steady rise in new cases in recent weeks amid fears of a second wave of the deadly contagion.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued new directives for domestic and foreign travellers coming to Pakistan. The new restrictions would come into force from Monday (October 5) and remain in force until December 31, according to the CAA letter.

Accordingly, the passengers have been asked to undergo corona PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test 96 hours before departure for any airport in Pakistan. However, passengers from countries, where the pandemic has been controlled, will be exempted.

The test would be mandatory for all passengers from “Category B” countries, where the virus is prevailing, except for children under the age of 12 years, persons with disabilities and international delegations.

The CAA letter, issued last month, instructed the authorities concerned and the officials stationed at all the airports across the country to use disinfectant sprays, especially after the departure of passengers. The passengers would wear face masks, while the flight crew would strictly follow the new guidelines.

The last time the passengers underwent mandatory coronavirus test was at the Karachi airport in July. The tests were conducted by the Sindh Health Department and the results showed that 123 passengers, coming from Dubai, had contracted Covid-19.

Dr Rafiq Khanani, President, Pakistan Infection Control Society, said that the coronavirus spread through the border area. “We have to take strict measures to eradicate this virus in the border areas,” he said. “The virus has been contained after strict measures at the entry points around the world.

“But, border areas in Pakistan are being ignored. At present, the coronavirus tests of foreign passengers are not being conducted at the airport of Pakistan due to which the cases started to rise again.”



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