Pakistan Bans Entry of Passengers from United Kingdom

Following the emergence of a new and highly infectious coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU), as well as various other countries banned the entry of passengers from Britain. Soon after, Pakistan also followed suit in fear of the new strain spreading in the country too. Thus, entry of passengers from the United Kingdom was banned, with effect from Tuesday, 21st of December. 

Numerous countries moved to close their borders to Britain early on Monday, consequently temporarily suspending any travel for Britons. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, made an announcement a few days ago revealing that a mutated variant of the disease has been identified in the country. He further informed that this strain is 70% more infectious than the ones that already exist. 

It was the decision of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to ban travel from the UK. This was decided on the same day when the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had to cancel all of its flights flying to and from Saudi Arabia. The cancellation was a result of the decision made by Saudi authorities to suspend any and all international flights for a week. 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a notification informing people that any direct and indirect flights from Britain have been delayed till the 29th of December. However, it also stated that in-transit passengers, who had not set foot at any British airport, will be allowed to enter Pakistan. In addition, Pakistani citizens can also gain entry into the country, but only after producing a negative coronavirus test. This test should have been conducted at least 72 hours prior to the beginning of the journey. 

The notification went on to add that even after a negative result, passengers will have to isolate themselves in their homes for at least 7 days after it. Any passengers that have traveled to Pakistan from Britain in the past few days, have also been quarantined in their homes. 

PIA also released a statement informing that they had canceled flights to Saudi Arabia, following the Saudi aviation authority’s decision to suspend all international flights. Due to the rising coronavirus cases all over the world, Saudi authorities thought it better to suspend all flights for a week at least. 

The canceled flights include PK-9760 and PK-9739. The first was going to fly on Monday from Lahore to Jeddah whereas, the latter was to take a flight from Multan to Jeddah. All PIA flights from Karachi, Islamabad, Multan, and Lahore for any Saudi cities of Dammam, Madina, and Jeddah, have consequently been suspended. 

As per a spokesperson from the PIA, these flights will not take off until the Saudi authorities gives the green signal. He added that all affected passengers will be accommodated right after flights resume. As of now, Saudi Arabia has given permission to foreign flights to leave the country.

On the other hand, Pakistan has been plagued by the deadlier second wave of the disease. On Monday, Kalsoom Parveen, the Balochistan Senator, succumbed to the virus in Islamabad. She had contracted the disease just last month. 

The pandemic continues to grip Pakistan with 1,792 new reported cases.