Passengers at Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi, Pakistan. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has extended the travel restrictions and temporary ban for all incoming travellers including chartered and private aircraft flights.

The new rules will come into effect from 1am on April 6 and continue until April 20.

The steps have been announced to prevent the spread of new variants of the virus in Pakistan as the country continues to grapple with the highly contagious third wave of the coronavirus reporting more than 4,000 new cases daily since March 24.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 is currently 61,450 – the highest since July 2020.

Not allowed entry

The CAA issued a new list of countries with the limited and complete travel ban categorized into three groups.

The new list of category C (countries not allowed entry into Pakistan) has increased the number of countries from 12 to 22 and includes South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, Kenya, Comoros, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Seychelles, Somalia, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The international travellers from 20 countries placed in the category do not require COVID-19 test before entry into Pakistan.

These countries include Australia, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam.

All international travellers from countries other than the ones mentioned in category A require COVID-19 PCR test (maximum 72 hours old) before traveling to Pakistan.

UK travel ban

Pakistan was recently placed on UK’s new ban on travellers along with three other countries that made Pakistani lawmakers question the motive of the ban. Asad Umar, who is leading Pakistan’s fight against the pandemic said the ban “raises a legitimate question whether the choice of countries is based on science or foreign policy.”

Naz Shah, a Pakistani-origin British lawmaker, in a letter dated March 30 to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, also questioned the rationale of the ban.

She said that the decision was not led by science and discrimination against Pakistan, citing latest figures that “France, Germany and India have substantially higher numbers of infections per 100,000 people.”