Pakistan further increases travel restrictions amid looming Omicron threat


A file photo of a Pakistani airport.
A file photo of a Pakistani airport.
  • NCOC imposes further restrictions on in-bound passengers to prevent new COVID-19 variant from coming to Pakistan.
  • Names of 15 countries now on Pakistan’s Category C list.
  • NCOC issues statements detailing all travel restrictions and protocols for Category A, B and C countries.

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has added eight more names to its Category C list of countries from where travellers are banned from entering Pakistan in wake of the threat of the new COVID-19 variant Omicorn.

The new Category C list includes Croatia, Hungary, Netherlands, Ukraine, Ireland, Slovenia, Vietnam, Poland, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The health and testing protocols for inbound air travel from Category C countries include a complete ban on inbound travel from Category C countries.

What does your exemption certificate need if you’re travelling from a Category C country?

Essential travel from these countries will necessitate obtaining an exemption certificate with the following health protocols:

  • 100% vaccination for all inbound passengers.
  • All passengers of six years of age and above (locals / foreigners) are required to be in possession of negative PCR test report (max 48 hours old) before boarding. Deportees are exempted from PCR test/ report requirement.
  • Rapid antigen test (RAT) on arrival at airport for all inbound passengers (6 years and older) travelling via direct or indirect flights from Category C countries.
  • RAT negative cases will be allowed to proceed. However, RAT negative cases from Omicron variant countries (South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia) will have to undergo three days mandatory quarantine followed by PCR test to be conducted on third day by civil administration.
  • RAT positive cases will be quarantined for 10 days. The RT PCR test of all RAT positive quarantined passengers will be undertaken on eighth day of quarantine. In case of negative result, passenger will be allowed to proceed. If positive, they will either undergo additional quarantine or be shifted to hospital as per advice of health authorities.

Category B and its travel protocols

As per NCOC’s latest rules, the updated Category B list includes Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, USA, UK, Thailand, France, Austria, Afghanistan, Turkey.

Health and testing protocols for inbound air travel from Category B countries are as under:

  • 100% vaccination for all inbound passengers.
  • All passengers of six years of age and above (locals / foreigners) are required to be in possession of negative PCR test report (max 48 hours old) before boarding. Deportees are exempted from PCR test/ report requirement.
  • RAT of random flights will be conducted at airport on arrival.
  • RAT negative cases will be allowed to proceed.
  • RAT positive cases will be quarantined for 10 days. The RT PCR test of all RAT positive quarantined passengers will be undertaken on eighth day of quarantine. In case of negative result, passenger will be allowed to proceed home. If positive, they will either undergo additional quarantine or be shifted to hospital as per advice of health authorities.

Category A and its health protocols

All other countries not included in categories B and C will fall under Category A with the following health and testing protocols for inbound travelers:

  • 100% vaccination for all inbound passengers.
  • All passengers of six years of age and above (locals / foreigners) are required to be in possession of negative PCR test report (max 48 hours old) before boarding. Deportees are exempted from PCR test/ report requirement.
  • Screening of transit flights. 100% RAT on arrival for transit flights arriving via KSA, UAE and Qatar will be ensured to guard against entry of Omicron variant through indirect flights

Facilitating stranded Pakistanis

The NCOC has, meanwhile, approved some travel relaxations to facilitate stranded Pakistanis.

All Pakistanis can travel from Category C countries without exemption till December 15, but the health and testing protocols will apply.

Pakistanis already travelled/ travelling to Category C countries on short term visa and deportees are permitted to travel back without an exemption process.

Pakistanis unable to get themselves vaccinated abroad (all categories) due to expired visa / Emirates ID or illegal immigrants/ deportees, pending court cases, medical conditions, pregnancy or partial vaccination from Pakistan are exempted from mandatory vaccination if they show valid proof to airline/ immigration authorities before boarding.



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