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ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan has made mandatory, screening of Pakistani passengers travelling abroad, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SPAM) on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf has said.

Briefing media persons here on Thursday at the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), he said the passengers should act responsibly and should not embark upon foreign travel, if they had symptoms of Covid-19.

He rejected the impression that Pakistan was exporting coronavirus to other countries, saying that the government of Pakistan was keeping a close eye on the incoming and out-bound passengers. Yusuf said the PIA flights for the Gulf region would continue.

He said, "we have brought back Pakistanis from 70 countries."

Yusuf said Pakistan had acted in the most responsible manner to check the spread of the virus.

Yusuf strongly rejected the news appearing in a section of press regarding Pakistani passengers being accused of exporting the coronavirus to other countries.

He said that the British High Commissioner had confirmed that it was the British media not the government stance regarding the COVID-19 positive cases of Pakistanis expats returned.

He said that Pakistan was the only country holding tests, quarantine and screening of outbound passengers.

He said that only 30 overseas Pakistani returned were tested positive in the UK where they claimed huge number of the affected.

He said that international and national media propagated baseless news regarding this issue.

He said that 90 percent of overseas Pakistanis were repatriated from Gulf countries, saying stranded Pakistani would be brought back completely by the next week on their will.

He said that outbound screening made mandatory had already been adopted since the last three months.

He said that countries had imposed condition for the test before flight.

Yusuf said that destination country and airline policy should be followed at all costs by outbound passengers.

He said that travel was prohibited in case of symptoms.

He said that there were some incidents where outbound passengers had presented invalid medical certificates that were highlighted abroad as shame for the country.

He said that the flight operation was only for stranded Pakistanis and only people in emergency would be given priority.

He said that our priority is to facilitate the labourers and everybody should show responsibility.

He said that coronavirus was still an issue and people should follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Meanwhile, the coronavirus cases at national level have reached 220,239 with 4,504 deaths, and 104,694 recoveries, data released by the NCOC and Provincial Health Authorities said.

According to the authorities, Sindh is top with 89,225 Covid-19 cases, followed by Punjab 77,740 cases, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with 26,938 cases, Balochistan with 10,608 cases, Islamabad 13,082 cases, Gilgit-Baltistan with 1,535 cases, and Azad jammu and Kashmir (AJK) with 1,135 cases.

Punjab has reported 1,478 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the government's database on coronavirus, the provincial total has risen to 77,740.

The province has also reported 22 deaths from the virus, taking the total fatalities to 1,784.

According to the portal, 28,266 people have recovered from the virus in the province so far.

Sindh has reported 2,430 coronavirus cases, and 31 deaths during the past 24 hours, according to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

In a statement issued by the CM House, he said 9,436 tests were carried out in the province during the last 24 hours.

The provincial total has risen to 89,225, while the death toll is 1,437.

The chief minister added that 36,072 patients were currently under treatment, while 754 were in critical condition.

The KPK has reported 340 cases taking total to 26,938, with 22 more lives lost taking total to 973.

During the past 24 hours, 517 patients have recovered taking the tally to 13,584, and the provincial government so far has conducted 152,703 total tests.

Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have collectively recorded 234 new Covid-19 cases and five additional fatalities.

The breakdown is as follows: Islamabad registered 170 new cases and one death, GB tested 22 Covid-19 positive cases and two deaths, while AJK tested 42 Covid-19 positive cases, and two deaths.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020