Islamabad: The Pakistan government has announced that all incoming international flights to the country will remain suspended for the next two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection via foreign travellers, it was reported on Sunday.
The decision was taken on Sunday during a meeting of the National Coordination Committee chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dawn news quoted Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yusuf as saying in a press conference.
Yusuf said Pakistan had last week placed the condition on international passengers arriving in Pakistan to bring with them a negative coronavirus certification.
However, in view of the current situation, a “difficult” decision was taken to ban all incoming international flights to Pakistan, starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, for two weeks until 8 p.m. on April 4, he added.
The restriction will apply to all passenger, charter and private flights. However, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will be allowed to bring back its planes which are already abroad.
The suspension of flights will not apply to diplomats and cargo flights.
Yusuf did not state whether outgoing international flights from Pakistan will be affected by the decision.
“We are aware that this (decision) will create difficulties,” he said, noting that nearly 200,000 passengers were slated to arrive in Pakistan in the next two weeks.
In this regard, Yusuf said all Pakistani missions abroad have been directed to facilitate passengers affected by the decision, Dawn news reported.
Yusuf said the virus had arrived in the country from abroad and the government could not “risk further infections” from people arriving from COVID-19 hubs.
When international flights to the country resume, passengers will no longer be required to produce COVID-19 negative certification and their screening will be enhanced, he announced.
Yusuf denied reports of an impending lockdown of cities in the country, urging the public to only trust information released by the government.
The decision comes as Pakistan has so far registered 645 confirmed coronavirus cases with three fatalities.
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