KARACHI: Pakistan’s aviation regulator has made masks mandatory on domestic flights given a gradual rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, it said in a statement.
The order comes a day after Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi, reported that its COVID-19 positivity ratio, or the rate of positive cases out of all tests conducted, rose to 21% compared with a national rate of 2.8%.
“With immediate effect, mask wearing will be mandatory onboard domestic flights,” the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said in the statement late on Sunday.
On the other hand, the National Institute of Health Islamabad, Pakistan also recommended the public of Pakistan to wear masks in all modes of transportation.
“After a slight change in Covid-19 cases in some cities, the NCOC has recommended mask-wearing on all domestic flights, railways, and public transport within the country is mandatory,” it said in a tweet. “So all citizens are requested to wear a face mask during travel.”
Pakistan has had very few COVID cases over recent months and had done away with almost all precautions.
But over the past 24 hours, the national COVID positivity ratio had risen to 2.85% with 382 positive cases and two deaths, according to data released on Monday by the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH).
A month ago, the positivity ratio was 0.54% with 79 positive cases and no deaths.
According to the NIH, 85% of eligible Pakistanis have been fully vaccinated against COVID.
Pakistan disbanded the National Command and Operations Center, which was overseeing the COVID response, on March 31 as infections fell to the lowest since the outbreak began in 2020.