DUBAI: More than 20,000 Pakistani workers stuck in the United Arab Emirates are seeking to return home, as the Gulf Arab state tightens restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The UAE, which has reported 1,799 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths, has gradually increased curbs, including imposing a nationwide curfew, suspending passenger flights and putting Dubai in a lockdown.

Over 20,000 Pakistanis had registered since April 3 with the consulate to go home, a Pakistan consulate spokesman said on Monday.

Those who had registered included some whose visas had expired, who had lost their jobs or stopped being paid by their employer as well as those who entered the country on visitor visas, he said.

Pakistani authorities were in talks with their UAE counterparts to try to arrange flights so that the Pakistanis could return home, the spokesman said.

Government media offices for the UAE and Dubai did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

Hundreds of Pakistanis gathered outside the consulate on Sunday, demanding to be sent home, Dubai’s Gulf News newspaper reported on Monday.

The consulate spokesman disputed the figure and said police had dispersed the group as they were in breach of the lockdown.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020