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ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Sunday reviewed its border management protocols to impose ban on pedestrian movement from Afghanistan and Iran to Pakistan with certain exceptions to Pakistani nationals and ‘extreme medical emergencies’ in the backdrop of rapid spread of Covid-19 across the country.

The revised policy will be effective from midnight May 4-5 till midnight May 19-20, according to NCOC.

“In view of restricting new variants of Covid-19 away from Pakistan, the National Command and Operation Centre has decided to cease the inbound pedestrian movement from Afghanistan and Iran with exception to Pakistani nationals desirous to return,” NCOC said in an official statement.

The NCOC took this decision while reviewing Land Border Management Policy with Afghanistan and Iran to ensure regulated inbound pedestrian movement and effective management of Covid protocols at border terminals (BTs), the statement added.

The forum reviewed the policy in view of the emergence of various variants and to restrain import of any new mutation to Pakistan, it added.

The NCOC allowed pedestrian movement to Pakistan from the two neighbouring countries in case of extreme medical emergencies.

However, the new measures will have no effect on existing cargo trade movement and all outbound pedestrian movement (from Pakistan to Afghanistan/Iran) is permissible, the NCOC said.

The forum also reviewed testing and quarantine protocols to ensure that the pedestrians will undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and Covid positive cases (Pakistani nationals only) will be allowed to be shifted to nearby quarantine facilities.

Border terminals will remain open for seven days a week and employment strength of law enforcement agencies and health staff at BTs will be increased for implementation of testing protocols and to control high traffic density, the statement added.

Meanwhile, some 113 people lost their lives to coronavirus in Pakistan in 24 hours (till Sunday evening), according to official data issued by federal government.

The Covid positivity ratio remained at 9.7 per cent with 4,414 new positive cases in 24 hours.

The total death toll due to COVID-19, till Sunday evening, was 18,070 and total number of confirmed Covid cases was touching 90,000. The number of Covid tests conducted in 24 hours was 45,275.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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