Saturday, January 29, 2022

Omicron variant: NCOC bans travel from Cat C countries

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ISLAMABAD: Amidst the threat of the potential spread of new Covid-19 Omicron variant to Pakistan, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday imposed a complete ban on inbound travel from Category C countries.

The country’s top platform overseeing Covid response reviewed the prevailing Covid situation across the globe and revised the policy for categorisation of air travel and the Cat C list.

The Cat C countries include Croatia, Hungry, Netherlands, Ukraine, Ireland, Slovenia, Vietnam, Poland, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

The NCOC said there will be a complete ban on inbound travel from the Cat C countries and essential travel from these countries would warrant an exemption certificate from the government’s exemption committee with a set of health protocols.

According to the health protocols, all passengers must be fully vaccinated with a negative PCR test report (maximum 48 hours prior to the departure). Apart from that, all passengers aged 6 years and above will have to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on arrival at airport.

The National Command and Operation Centre said flyers with a negative RAT report will be allowed to enter the country. However, passengers with a negative RAT report from countries that have reported Omicron variant such as South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia will have to undergo three days’ mandatory quarantine to be followed by a PCR test.

Passengers with a positive RAT will have to quarantine for 10 days and undergo a PCR test on the eighth day of their quarantine. In case of negative result, they will be allowed to walk free. However, in case of a positive result, passengers will either undergo additional quarantine or will be shifted to a hospital as per the advice of health authorities.

The Category B countries include Germany, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, USA, UK, Thailand, France, Austria, Afghanistan and Turkey.

Passengers arriving from the Cat B countries are also required to be fully vaccinated with a negative PCR test report (maximum 48 hours prior to the landing). Random RATs of passengers travelling from these countries will be conducted at airport.

The Cat ‘A’ countries include all states that are not included in Cat ‘C’ and ‘B’. Travelers from the Cat A countries are required to be fully vaccinated with a negative PCR test report (maximum 48 hours prior to the boarding).

In addition to that, transit flights arriving via Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar will subjected to screening to stop the potential transmission of Omicron variant through indirect flights.

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