Iran bans flights to and from India, Pakistan

Published April 25, 2021
Iran’s civil aviation agency banned all flights to and from India and Pakistan because of the dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the two nations. — Reuters/File
Iran’s civil aviation agency banned all flights to and from India and Pakistan because of the dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the two nations. — Reuters/File

TEHRAN: Iran’s civil aviation agency banned all flights to and from India and Pakistan because of the dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the two nations, state-run IRNA news agency said on Saturday.

IRNA said the decision taken by the health ministry took effect on Saturday at midnight.

Mohammad Hassan Zibakhsh, spokesman for Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation noted there were no routine flights between Iran and India and flights were operated occasionally.

Several other countries in the region, including the sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait, also have banned flights to and from India over the rise in coronavirus cases there.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said 18,230 new cases were detected over the previous 24 hours, bringing Iran’s total on Saturday to more than 2,377,000.

Beyond the Gulf, Canada also suspended flights from both India and Pakistan for 30 days, while the US State Department urged Americans to avoid travelling to India, even if they were vaccinated.

Concern has focussed on a new strain of the virus that has spread rapidly in India and has already been detected in Europe. —AP

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Canada Raza Bashir Tarar has urged the Canadian government to reconsider its decision of suspending passenger flights to and from Pakistan for 30 days, Amin Ahmed in Islamabad adds.

In a letter addressed to Canada’s Minister for Transport Omar Alghabra, Ambassador Tarar drew attention to the fact that Pakistan, like all other countries, had been facing the epidemic but had managed it better than most due to its strategy of smart lockdowns.

On Friday Pakistan reported a total of 5,870 new cases of Covid-19 but it was unfortunately bracketed with a country that had recorded over 330,000 cases the same day.

Mr Tarar said the decision of suspending passenger flights from Pakistan betrayed a lack of understanding of the dynamics in South Asia. The order “ignores the fact that both trains and flights are not operational between the two countries (India and Pakistan) … so the ban on flights from Pakistan because a new variant has developed in another country, whose population has no possibility of contact with Pakistan, defies logic”, he added.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2021

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