ISLAMABAD, Dec 21 (APP):Pakistan on Monday enforced new safety measures for the air passengers arriving from Britain after the Kingdom reported detection of a new strain of SARS-COV-2 (VUI202012/01) that was more transmissible than other previously known viruses.

“In light of this news, the NCOC [National Command and Operation Center] has decided upon an immediate response to limit the strain’s spread in Pakistan,” said an health ministry’s news release, shared by the Aviation Division.

In order to prevent the spread of this particular strain of SARS-COV-2 in Pakistan, the NCOC has decided to trace and test all passengers, who had arrived from the UK over the past seven days as per TTQ [Trace, Test and Quarantine] protocols, including passengers arriving on December 21-22.

It also requested the passengers, who arrived from the UK over the past seven days, to quarantine themselves until their test reports were compiled.

According to the new safety measures, which would be effective from 11:59 p.m December 22, 2020, all Pakistani passport holders, who travelled to UK on visitor/temporary visas, would be allowed to return with negative result of a PCR test taken 72 hours prior to boarding the flight in the UK.

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Such passengers would also have to undergo a PCR test on arrival in Pakistan as arranged by the federal and provincial governments. “Passengers will be required to stay in the airport or will be taken to a government facility until the test is taken,” it added.

Besides, there would be a mandatory home quarantine for seven days for the passengers.
Whereas, direct or in direct travel from the UK would remain temporarily suspended from 11:59 p.m. on December22 for non-Pakistani and dual nationals (holding both UK and Pakistan Passports).

“All travelers who are in or have been in the UK over the past 10 days will not be allowed entry into Pakistan”. However, passengers in transit in the UK, who do not leave airside during the transit, would be allowed to enter Pakistan.

The Pass Track App is mandatory for all travelers arriving in Pakistan from any country. “Passengers who do not have a Pass Track App will need to fill out the web form of the Pass Track App.”

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For updated travel advice and further information, could be obtained from the official website https://covid.gov.pk/intl_travellers/current_policies.

“These measures will remain [in force] until 11:59 PM 29th of December, 2020 at least and will be reviewed by the NCOC on 28th of December 2020.”

The United Kingdom (UK) had launched a new virological investigation once authorities reported a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in South East England.

The in-depth analysis concluded that the sharp rise in cases is likely due to a new, mutated strain of the virus currently named “VUI202012/01”.

“Preliminary analysis suggests that this particular strain is approximately 70% more transmissible.”

However, so far there was no evidence to suggest that the infection caused by this strain was any more severe.

“Many countries have already either completely banned or imposed additional restrictions on flights and travelers coming from the UK,” the news release said.