Pakistan bans travel from 12 countries amid spike in coronavirus cases

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A young girl reacts while having a nasal swab sample taken by a health worker at a COVID-19 testing facility in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.

Islamabad: Pakistan imposed a complete ban on travel from 12 countries, including South Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania, in a bid to curb the spike of coronavirus cases as the country on Sunday recorded 3,667 new cases, taking the national tally to 626,802.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) notified a fresh list of countries categorised into A, B and C after emergence of South African and Brazilian strain of the virus and imposed a complete ban on travel from 12 countries, categorised as C.

The travel restrictions and a ban on inbound passengers from 12 countries will remain effective from March 23 to April 5.

Botswana, Brazil, Columbia, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia have been placed in category C.

The CAA in its notification said there will be a complete travel ban on inbound travel to Pakistan from category C countries, including withdrawal of exemptions earlier provided to certain categories of travellers like Pakistani passport holders.

The temporary measure is being introduced in continuation to the steps being taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan, it said.

The CAA also updated its category C, for inbound travellers and shifted the United Kingdom from category C to category B.

The CAA said the international travellers from category A countries do not require COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test before entry into Pakistan.

Australia, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam have been placed in category A.

The international travellers from countries not specified in category A require COVID-19 test before commencement of travel to Pakistan.

The notification said all countries which are not specified in A and C fall in category B.

Meanwhile, the ministry of National Health Services reported that another 8.74 positivity rate was recorded in the last 24 hours, which is lower than 9.47 of the previous day but still high.

It said that 44 more patients died in the last one day, pushing the death toll to 13,843 in the country. Also, 581,852 people recovered so far while 2,900 were in critical conditions.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were tested positive on Saturday for the COVID-19, two days after the Pakistani premier got the first shot of a vaccine.

Khan, 68, contracted the coronavirus on a day when the country saw the highest number of positive cases since July with 3,876 people getting infected.