Omicron-fuelled fifth wave: Pakistan announces new travel advisory

Lahore (NUT-DESK)

As a looming fifth wave of the coronavirus epidemic, this time fuelled by the Omicron variant, sends alarm bells ringing, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has made PCR testing mandatory for everyone flying in from overseas. The test has to have been conducted a maximum 48 hours before every traveller’s flight.

The CAA has said all travelers aged 15 and up will be required to present a negative coronavirus test report upon arrival in Pakistan.

All travelers flying from European countries will be required to take a Rapid Antigen Test upon arrival, while half of the flights from Saudi Arabia and UAE will also have to take Rapid Antigen Test.

Following are the new guidelines as announced by the CAA:

  • Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and possession of proof of COVID-19 vaccination. This is applicable for all passengers above 15 years of age.
  • Valid negative PCR test result conducted within the 48 hours prior to commencement of travel to Pakistan. This is applicable for all passengers above 06 years of age.
  • Rapid Antigen Testing upon arrival for all direct flights from Europe
  • Rapid Antigen Testing upon arrival of a minimum of 50% inbound flights from KSA, UAE and Qatar
  • Selective Rapid Antigen Testing for all inbound flights other than flights mentioned at (c) and (d) above.

According to the CAA, passengers will be required to be quarantined for 10 days if they test positive.

Passengers will have the option of isolating themselves at their own expense in hotels or other locations. The CAA stated that travellers will not be charged for expenses incurred at quarantine centres set up by the health department.

The new travel advisory will take effect on January 5 at the direction of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), according to CAA.

The fifth wave of COVID-19, which is driven by the Omicron variant, is spreading at a rapid pace in the country, the National Command and Operation Centre said Monday as Pakistan reported its highest number of daily infections in over two months.

While addressing the epidemic curve chart data, the national immunisation plan and disease prevalence across the country in a morning session on Monday, the NCOC confirmed that the positivity rate in Karachi has risen from 2% to 6% in the last three days, with the highest number of positive instances.