UAE suspends issuance of visit visas to 12 countries including Pakistan, says FO
The United Arab Emirates has temporarily suspended the issuance of visit visas to a dozen countries, including Pakistan, until further notice, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri confirmed on Wednesday.
The decision by the UAE authorities is "believed to be related to the second wave of Covid-19", Chaudhri said in a statement.
"We are seeking official confirmation from the concerned UAE authorities in this regard," he said.
In a statement, Chaudhri clarified that the suspension will not apply to visas that have already been issued.
The development was confirmed by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez, who said that written instructions had not been issued to the airline so far. He said that people holding iqama, transit and work visas were still allowed entry in the UAE.
It was not immediately clear how many categories of visas would be affected by the suspension. The UAE has various visa categories including business, tourist, transit, student etc.
In June, when cases in Pakistan were on the rise, UAE airline Emirates had announced temporary suspension of passenger services from Pakistan till July 3. The decision came after around 30 Pakistanis who arrived in Hong Kong onboard an Emirates flight tested positive for the virus. The airline resumed its flights in July.
In August, Kuwait's aviation banned commercial flights to 31 countries, including Pakistan, regarded as 'high risk' due to the spread of the coronavirus
The number of infections has been rising in Pakistan since late last month and authorities have declared that the country was witnessing the second wave of Covid-19.
For the past six days, Pakistan has recorded more than 2,000 daily cases of the novel coronavirus and officials have warned that the positivity rate of the disease has increased, especially in major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Hyderabad etc.
On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had urged the people to "act as a nation" in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The premier announced new restrictions on public events, including the suspension of his party's political rallies, and stressed the implementation of mask-wearing and social distancing to control the spread of the virus.
"This is the time to take precautions. If we do, we can slow down the virus. Just like earlier we were saved due to following precautions, that time has come again," he said, noting that Covid-19 cases in Pakistan had increased by four times in the past two weeks.