International Airport Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan is tightening measures to screen international passengers arriving in the country in view of the rising cases of COVID-19. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Border Health Services (BHS) on Thursday directed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to tighten measures including screening of all the international travellers landing in Pakistan since there is a global surge in COVID-19 variant cases.

The advisory also binds the Airport Health Services to screen — using Antigen Rapid Test— every traveller with minutest symptoms of coronavirus at the airports.

According to the notification, all the focal persons of the BHS have been advised to maintain a heightened level of awareness for the rapid identification, detection, and isolation of any potential cases to prevent further transmission as part of effective control and prevention measures.

A random sampling of all inbound passengers on international flights (2%) has been advised as part of the national response against COVID-19 at the points of entry.

The border health authority has also advised all the airlines to facilitate its staff in carrying out the testing smoothly, as some passengers often resist being tested.

Meanwhile, anticipating a possible surge in COVID-19 variants, the government of Sindh has sent a number of recommendations to the National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC) for screening of all inbound passengers from China at airports.

In a letter addressed to the Coordinator of the NCOC, National Institute of Health (NIH) on Thursday, the spokesperson of the provincial government for COVID-19 has recommended that all inbound passengers from China on international flights be tested for COVID-19 at the airports and in case of positive results, the persons shall be kept in quarantine until they are tested negative.

Mandatory booster dose for 65-year old persons and above

The letter also calls for serology tests of confirmed positive cases and mandatory administration of COVID-19 booster dose with Pfizer Bivalent to citizens who got inoculated six months ago, particularly the persons of 65-year age and above.

The government of Sindh has also recommended setting up isolation centres for the positive cases as well as those who have symptoms but are tested negative.

The NCOC should also declare COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for domestic and international travelling.

Since a huge number of false cases of COVID-19 are being reported, therefore a person showing symptoms similar to COVID-19 should be isolated and tested on PCR for confirmation, the official letter further recommends.

Ban on mass gathering

The provincial health department has also recommended a ban on mass gatherings and also recommended mandatory mask-wearing.