Pakistani nationals are being prevented from boarding flights at Heathrow Airport for fears of the new and unfamiliar strain of the coronavirus that has raised alarms in various countries of the European Union (EU), including the United Kingdom (UK).
A news report this morning revealed that airlines are refusing to board any passengers despite the directive of the government of Pakistan that allows passport holders with negative COVID-19 tests to travel back to the country.
Stranded passengers reportedly staged protests at Heathrow Airport over the refusal of airlines to fly them to Pakistan.
Currently, the new strain of the coronavirus has been detected in some European countries, South Africa, India, Japan, and Pakistan. Many countries of the EU and the Asia Pacific, including Pakistan, have placed strict travel restrictions on traveling after it was detected earlier in December. The UK’s neighboring countries have even closed their borders to it over rising concerns for the worsening pandemic in the region.
People are 70 percent more susceptible to contract the new strain that has been termed as the ‘B.1.17 genomic thread’ by experts or simply a ‘cousin counterpart’ of the original coronavirus.
Meanwhile, according to the temporary restrictions imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on flights from the UK, it is mandatory for passengers to download the Pass Track App that records the basic information of the passengers prior to inbound flights from virus-stricken countries to Pakistan.
To facilitate passengers in coping with the strict travel restrictions, the CAA has allowed individuals with either Business, Visitor, or Transit visas from the UK to return to Pakistan if they can produce a verified negative PCR test.
Furthermore, the government has also allowed Pakistanis holding study, family, work, and settlement visas from the UK to return to Pakistan “if their visas are expiring within the next 30 days from the issuance of this letter while holding negative PCR test reports conducted within the 72 hours prior to commencement of travel to Pakistan”.
The CAA will also clear flight crew members in Pakistan, provided they get tested for the virus upon arrival and are quarantined in designated hotels until their results are received.
Crew members who test negative will be allowed to resume operations as usual while infected staffers will be required to be quarantined for a period specified by Pakistan’s health authorities.