Covid-19 cases among workers returning from UAE alarm govt

Published May 6, 2020
“It has been taken up officially with UAE authorities,”says Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqi. — FO handout/File
“It has been taken up officially with UAE authorities,”says Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqi. — FO handout/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has raised concerns with the United Arab Emirates that workers are returning home from the Gulf nation with high rates of Covid-19 and that crowded living conditions in the UAE may be helping the virus to spread, the foreign ministry said.

“It has been taken up officially with UAE authorities,” ministry spokeswoman Aisha Farooqi said via WhatsApp. “Both govts are working together to find [an] optimal solution to this shared concern.”

The UAE’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment when contacted by Reuters.

The UAE is home to around 1.5 million Pakistanis, many of whom are low-wage workers who live in crowded housing and are now out of work but stranded due to limited repatriation flights.

Around 60,000 Pakistanis have registered to return home from the UAE, according to Pakistan’s consulate general in Dubai.

The UAE earlier warned it could review labour ties with countries refusing to take back nationals who have been stranded, lost jobs or have been put on leave due to the coronavirus pandemic and want to return home.

Pakistan is facing the challenge of quarantining thousands of overseas workers wanting to return home while it deals with its own fast-growing number of cases, as infections reached more than 22,000 with over 500 deaths.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2020

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