All international passengers arriving at Pakistani airports on the remaining services would be required to undergo rapid antigen testing

Pakistan will reduce the number of international flights to and from its airports by 80% to help curb the increase in COVID-19 cases, the government said on Saturday.

The restrictions will go into effect on May 5 and will continue until May 20, the Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement, although it did not specify which flights or destinations would be affected by the measure. .

Controls will be reviewed on May 18, the government said in a statement approved by the National Command Operations Center (NCOC), which is overseeing Pakistan’s response to the pandemic.

The restrictions will apply to charter and private flights as well as scheduled services.

All international passengers arriving at Pakistani airports on the remaining services would be required to undergo rapid antigen testing (RAT) and will also be required to present an RT-PCR test performed within 72 hours before boarding a flight to Pakistan .

Passengers who test negative for COVID will still be subject to a home self-quarantine for 10 days, and those found positive will be transferred to a self-funded facility during the same period. Incoming passengers will also need to download an app to their phones to help monitor their movements.

There will be exemptions from these checks for children under 12, people with disabilities, high-level international figures and Pakistani deportees.

Pakistan has seen record deaths in recent days from the coronavirus and tighter restrictions on travel and public gatherings are planned for the upcoming Eid holiday, although the level of infections has yet to reach the level in neighboring India.

Officials fear that the country’s already strained health system could reach a breaking point if more contagious variants of the virus start to spread, as has happened in India. Pakistan has reported 4,696 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and 146 deaths.

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