Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf on Thursday said that the government has decided to follow the same screening process for passengers flying out of Pakistan as it does for incoming passengers.
The government's change in policy — effective from Saturday (June 27) — comes a day after Emirates temporarily suspended its services after about 30 Pakistanis who arrived in Hong Kong onboard the UAE airline's flight on June 22 tested positive for Covid-19.
Yusuf, speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, said that contrary to reports, "not all people who travelled outside Pakistan have tested positive".
"It has been reported that a big percentage of outbound passengers from Pakistan have tested positive in other countries. I want to clarify that is not the case."
Yusuf further said that while outbound passengers would not be tested for the coronavirus, their temperatures and symptoms would be checked. "If there is any suspicion, the health staff will question [travellers] and if they are suspected to have corona, they will not be allowed to travel."
He urged people, especially those who have booked their tickets, to only come to the airport if they are "satisfied that they are completely fit". He cautioned that if people had symptoms or had been in contact with a corona patient, they should not come to the airport.
He also advised people to study the policy of the country they were headed to and make sure they fulfilled all conditions.
Several countries have made it compulsory for all passengers to quarantine themselves for 14 days while others have mandated that incoming passengers should have their tests done, he said, adding that people flying to those countries should make sure to fulfil the conditions.
"I request people flying to such countries to follow their policies. If you go there and test positive, it will be a diplomatic issue for Pakistan."
Speaking about passengers from Pakistan testing positive, he said that the government was "aware" of it. "[Some countries] have raised concerns. We are looking into this as a responsible state and will take steps. We will address these concerns."
On Wednesday, Emirates temporarily suspended passenger services from Pakistan. An Emirates spokesman said: "Following the announcement of positive Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong relating to certain passengers who travelled on our flights, Emirates has taken the decision to temporarily suspend passenger services from Pakistan.
"We are coordinating closely with the various authorities and will review and implement any required additional measures to satisfy all parties before we resume services from Pakistan.”
The government allowed the resumption of international flights only for outbound passengers from May 30 from all international airports of Pakistan, except Gwadar and Turbat.