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Pakistan imposes fresh travel restrictions on UK after emergence of new coronavirus strain

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Islamabad Airport. — AFP/Files

Pakistan on Monday imposed temporary curbs on in-bound passengers from the UK after the emergence of a new coronavirus strain, a notification from the Aviation Division said.

The notification said that the curbs will remain in place from December 22-29, and will apply to persons who originate travel from the UK and are in, or have been in Britain over the past 10 days.

However, some passengers will be exempted from these restrictions:

  • Transit passengers — who do not leave airside in the UK — from destinations other than the UK will be allowed to travel to Pakistan.
  • Pakistani passport holders who travelled to UK on visitor temporary visas will be allowed to return with the following arrangements:
  1. A negative PCR test within 72 hours before the flight
  2. They will stay in the airport or in a government facility until the PCR test is taken.
  3. Mandatory enforced home quarantine for 7 days
  4. Trace and Test all passengers who arrived from the UK over the past 7 days as per TTQ protocol, including passengers arriving on 21 and 22 December.

Moreover, the Pass Track App app — which records the basic information of passengers arriving in Pakistan — has been made mandatory for people coming into the country.

The notification issued. — Aviation Division via The News

The passengers who do not have the Pass Track app will need to fill out the web form of the application.

"NCOC will review the above-mentioned decisions on December 28, 2020 and any change will be communicated to CAA for further necessary instructions," the notification added.

Countries scramble

A day earlier, countries had scrambled to ban entry from the UK on Sunday after health authorities in Britain reported of a new highly infectious coronavirus strain that is "out of control".

Late Sunday, Britain's critical south coast port at Dover said it was closing to all accompanied freight and passengers due to the French border restrictions "until further notice".

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Alarm bells were ringing across Europe — which last week became the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic broke out a year ago — as the new, even more infectious strain of the virus appeared to be raging in parts of Britain.

A WHO spokeswoman told AFP that "across Europe, where transmission is intense and widespread, countries need to redouble their control and prevention approaches."

A German government source said restrictions on air travel from Britain could be adopted by the entire 27-member EU and that countries were also discussing a joint response over sea, road and rail links.

Later Sunday, bans on flights from Britain were being implemented in the Americas, including by Canada, Chile and Argentina.

US officials however signalled they were holding off on the move for now.

Despite growing concerns about the new strain, EU experts believe it will not impact the effectiveness of existing vaccines, Germany's health minister Jens Spahn said.

The assessment was shared by Britain's chief medical officer Chris Whitty.


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