Pakistan Saturday joined a growing list of countries that have banned travel from seven counties, including South Africa, due to concerns over a new coronavirus variant named Omicron.
Travel from the countries now placed in category C, which includes countries from where people can only travel to Pakistan under the protocols issued by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), will only be allowed under “extreme emergency”.
The protocols issued by the NCOC include a vaccination certificate, a negative polymerase chain reaction test 72 hours before traveling, taking a rapid antigen test after reaching Pakistan, and a mandatory quarantine.
However, Pakistani stranded in these countries will be allowed to travel till December 5 without restriction, but will still have to follow the above-mentioned protocols.
The counties placed in category C include South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, and Hong Kong.
Many other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Russia, and the European Union, have placed a travel ban on these countries.
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new variant to be “of concern”, naming it Omicron. The said variant was first detected in South Africa by the WHO on November 24 and has since been identified in other countries all well.
The WHO has said that it will take a few more weeks to fully understand the new variant and the impact that it is likely to have. Meanwhile, scientists have warned that the new variant is the most highly mutated version of the virus yet detected, hence vaccines may not be as effective against it.