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NCOC lifts inbound travel restrictions

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Wednesday lifted inbound travel restrictions for Category B countries including all high risk states other than Category C amid enforcement of obligatory vaccination for inbound travel 1st October.

The NCOC meeting revised the COVID-19 related travel policy, health and testing protocols.

The Forum opined that owing to mass vaccination undertaken by various countries, a downward trend was witnessed in all COVID indicators across the globe.

It added that after enforcement of obligatory vaccination for inbound travel in Pakistan with effect from October 1, COVID related travel policy and health / testing protocols were revised. The Forum decided that inbound air traffic would operate at full quantum with effect from 10 November, 2021.

After revision in the Inbound Travel Policy, following countries on the basis of High Positivity, High Daily COVID Cases / Deaths and Low Vaccination Rate were placed in ‘Category C including Armenia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Iraq and Mexico.

However, the High-Risk Countries comprised of Mongolia, Slovenia, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago and Ukraine.

Moreover, in the wake of high disease indicators, Russia, Iran, Ethiopia, Germany, Philippines and Afghanistan were placed in high-risk category for continuous monitoring, however, no travel restriction was imposed on these states.

All countries (including high-risk countries) less Category ‘C’ were placed in Category ‘B’ with no inbound travel restrictions, the Forum decided in its meeting.

After the revised policy, Health and Testing protocols for Inbound Air Travel for implementation with effect from November 5, 2021, were 100% vaccination for all inbound passengers, all passengers of 06-year age and above (locals / foreigners) should be in possession of negative PCR test report (maximum 72 hours old) before boarding.

Furthermore, 100% RAT (rapid antigen test) on arrival at airport for all inbound passengers was abolished less passengers traveling via direct flight from Category ‘C’ and high-risk countries

It added that the selective flights ad symptomatic passengers from Category B countries would also undergo RAT. “Testing protocols are also applicable for all inbound border terminals less Afghanistan,” it decided.

The Forum allowed that Afghani Inbound pedestrians could travel to Pakistan through Border Terminals without vaccination certificate and PCR test.

However, they would undergo stringent testing and quarantine protocols as already in placed, it added.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.