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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has announced banning the entry of travellers from six countries, owing to the concerns of Omicron Covid-19 variant.

A statement by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said that a ban on direct or indirect inbound travel from the countries has been imposed, with the countries placed in Category C “with immediate effect”.

A notification issued by NCOC said, “Due to threat of new variant, following countries have also been included in Cat C and complete ban has been imposed on direct/ indirect inbound travel from these countries with immediate effect: South Africa, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana”.

The NCOC said that travellers from these countries only will be allowed in extreme emergency cases after obtaining exemptions and following health protocols will be ensured for the passengers: Vaccination certificate, negative PCR report 72 hours old before boarding, RAT negative cases will undergo three days mandatory home isolation, re-RAT will conducted on third day by civil administration, RAT positive cases will go 10 days mandatory isolation.

Pakistan among 6 countries: Saudi lifts suspension of direct entry for travellers

The notification further said that to facilitate stranded Pakistanis travel from these countries will be allowed by 5th December 2021 without exemptions but mandatory health protocols will be applicable to them also including PCR tests.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is potentially more contagious than previous variants of the disease, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other coronavirus strains.

A statement issued on the new variant of covid-19 by WHO says, “The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529. They advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern. WHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols.”

The variant was first discovered in South Africa and had also since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, and Hong Kong.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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