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CAA relaxes travel restrictions for inbound Pakistani travelers from UK

A PIA aircraft readies for takeoff. Photo: AFP

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Tuesday issued its updated SOPs on travel restrictions of inbound travelers from the United Kingdom (UK).

A day earlier, Pakistan had imposed travel restrictions on the UK after cases of a highly new infectious strain of the coronavirus emerged across the European country.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced Tuesday that Pakistani passport holders who have been issued the Business, Visitor or Transit visas by British authorities can return to the country provided they show a negative PCR test.

The test, however, must have been taken 72 hours prior to the start of their travel to Pakistan, said the aviation authority.

The government has also allowed Pakistanis that hold study, family, work and settlement visas in the UK to return to Pakistan "if their visas are expiring within the next 30 days from the issuance of this letter while holding negative PCR Test Reports conducted within the 72 hours prior to commencement of travel to Pakistan".

The CAA said that flight crew members may disembark in Pakistan provided they get themselves tested for coronavirus upon arrival and quarantine themselves in designated hotels.

The crew members that test negative will be allowed to perform their duties in Pakistan while those who test positive will have to quarantine in the designated hotels, for a time specified by the country's health authorities.

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"Additionally, diplomatic officials of British High Commission and their families currently outside Pakistan may be allowed to return to Pakistan with a negative PCR Test Result conducted within the 72 hours prior to commencement of travel to Pakistan and will also be subjected to mandatory quarantine with their High Commission upon arrival in Pakistan," read the CAA's notification.

The new variant

Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Monday due to fears about a new strain of coronavirus, said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of food shortages days before Britain is set to leave the European Union.

The discovery of the new strain, just months before vaccines are expected to be widely available, renewed fears about the virus, which killed about 1.7 million people worldwide.

The note of calm from the CEO about the UK mutation echoed the World Health Organization (WHO), which cautioned against major alarm, saying this was a normal part of a pandemic’s evolution.


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