US evacuates stranded citizens as Pak relaxes ban on intl flight

Islamabad: Pakistan relaxed its ban on international flights to let a US chartered plane to land and evacuate 294 American citizens, including nine diplomats, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pakistan had on March 21 suspended all overseas flights for two weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, that has infected over 2,708 people in the country.

According to a report in the Dawn, the special plane first landed at Karachi airport and then at Islamabad on Friday to take back the American citizens as the US authorities planned to evacuate its people from the country.

The flight took 119 US citizens from Karachi and 175 Americans, including nine diplomats, from the Islamabad International Airport, according to sources.

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At both airports, special arrangements were made to check any coronavirus symptom among the passengers as they were scanned and their luggage sprayed by the Pakistani authorities.

Besides the luggage, some pets were also with the passengers.

Earlier on March 22, several US embassy staff in Islamabad left for America on a flight contracted by a private company.

Meanwhile, as many as 195 Pakistanis stranded in Istanbul (Turkey) arrived at the Islamabad International Airport on a Pakistan International Airlines flight- PK-782, on Friday night.

An FIA immigration official said the flight operated from Karachi to Toronto on Thursday.

Soon after their arrival, all the Pakistani passengers were screened by the health authorities at the Islamabad airport.

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They were later shifted to different hotels for quarantine.

The government has planned a week-long repatriation flight operation from Saturday to bring back its nationals stranded overseas due to the suspension of international flight operation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, the government announced to slowly remove restrictions on the international flights to bring stranded Pakistan passengers from different countries.

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