Pakistan bans travellers from India for 2 weeks amid spread of new coronavirus variant

Published April 19, 2021
Pakistani airport staff walk through the Islamabad International Airport. — AFP/File
Pakistani airport staff walk through the Islamabad International Airport. — AFP/File

Pakistan on Monday imposed a ban on travellers from India through air and land routes for the next two weeks, citing the spread of a new variant of the novel coronavirus in the neighbouring country.

A statement issued by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said the decision was taken during a meeting of the forum today, presided over by Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar.

The forum was briefed about the spread of the new Indian variant of the coronavirus — a double-mutant variant — which was considered responsible for the recent surge in infections in the neighbouring country.

"The forum decided to place India in the list of Category C countries for two weeks. There will be a ban on inbound passengers coming from India via air and land route," the statement said.

The forum will carry out a review of countries placed in Category C on April 21 in view of the presence of the Indian variant in other countries, the statement added.

India's daily Covid-19 cases jumped by a record 273,810 on Monday as the health system crumbled under the weight of patients, bringing total infections closer to that of the United States, the world's worst-hit country.

The country's deaths from Covid-19 rose by a record 1,619 to reach a total of 178,769.

Read: India struggles with Covid count, bed shortage; political rallies continue

Last week, some 815 Sikhs arrived in Lahore from India on Monday to attend the Baisakhi festival. The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had issued visas to over 1,100 Sikh pilgrims in connection with the 10-day Vaisakhi festival.

Other countries in category C

Other countries included in Category C are South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Comoros, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Seychelles, Somalia, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Earlier this month, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) revised and extended the entry restrictions, temporary ban and the coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all inbound travellers, chartered and private aircraft flights till April 20.

A notification issued by the CAA containing a list of countries was shared by the regulator with 20 countries placed in category A.

From the 20 countries in category A, international travellers do not require a Covid-19 test before entry into Pakistan.

These countries are Australia, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam.

International travellers from countries not specified in category A required a Covid-19 PCR test (max 72 hours old) before commencement of travel to Pakistan.

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