Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yusuf has said that every Pakistani who returns to the country from abroad will have to be quarantined for 48 hours.
“Our main goal is to stem the spread of the virus,” he said during a press conference on Saturday. “Which is why when a passenger returns it is mandatory he/she quarantines for 48 hours. There are no exemptions for anyone with this rule. Passengers have the choice to either quarantine on their own expenses in hotels or stay for free in government centres.”
Special Assistant said the majority of those who returned to Pakistan in the last week have tested positive for the virus.
“Till now, we have repatriated 15,000 Pakistanis from different countries while more than 100,000 Pakistanis are still stuck abroad in 88 different countries,” Yousaf told a press conference on Saturday.
Giving a breakdown, the SAPM said more than 15,000 Pakistanis stuck in Saudi Arabia were waiting to return home.
“Those wishing to return need to register with the embassies. The embassies will then decide depending on the urgency which plane you can board and on what date. The embassies are playing a crucial role in helping us,” he said.
Yousaf further said that the majority of those who flew back into the country over the last 12 days have tested positive for the virus.
“Our main goal is to stem the spread of the virus,” he said. “Which is why when a passenger returns it is mandatory he/she quarantines for 48 hours. There are no exemptions for anyone with this rule. Passengers have the choice to either quarantine on their own expenses in hotels or stay for free in government centres.”
The SAPM added, “Tests are conducted after two days but due to the high number of tests being conducted each day there is no guarantee that the test will come back in two days.”
He added that they have received many complaints about the test-taking time. “We are conducting over 9,500 tests daily in the country and we receive complaints of test results not coming back in time.”
“We cannot allow anyone to return home without their test result coming back negative. Even if there is a chance your test comes back negative, there is a high probability that the others on the flight test positive and the other passengers might later test positive as well,” he noted.
Yousaf further said that because of the limited testing capacity of the provinces, only 7,500 passengers can be brought at a time.
“Before flying our planes there to bring back passengers we have to negotiate with that country’s government. There is no guarantee that just because we have announced flights, that there will be a flight available from that country,” Yousaf remarked.
He added, “Right now the ticket prices are three to four times higher than normal due to the circumstances and many people cannot afford those prices which are why the PIA flights are for them,” he said.
The SAPM added that they will be operating an additional 30 fights from May 1 to 10. “We are increasing our capacity so that more stranded Pakistanis can return home. We still have capacity issues which is why the prime minister has asked the provinces to increase their testing capacity.”
“This week our focus will be on bringing back Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia and the African countries.
As we keep increasing our testing capacity we can increase our number of flights,” he added.