Tuesday May 18, 2021
PESHAWAR: Twenty-eight passengers from Bahrain tested positive for coronavirus at the Bacha Khan International Airport on Tuesday.
The development is a worrying one as Pakistan, like many countries around the world, continues to grapple with the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The total caseload in the country has crossed 850,000 cases.
The airport's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Obaid-ur-Rehman Abbasi said rapid antigen tests were conducted on 130 passengers who arrived at the airport from Bahrain.
"The passengers who tested positive for the virus have been handed over to the district administration," he said, adding that various areas of the airport had also been disinfected after the development.
A day earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) revoked a private airline's flight permit flying from Dubai to Peshawar over violations of the government's mandated coronavirus protocols.
The private airline flight had flown 24 coronavirus positive cases from Dubai to Peshawar on May 10.
Despite warnings, 27 positive cases were brought to Peshawar from Sharjah again on May 16, the CAA spokesperson Saad bin Ayub had said.
He had said the airline was ignoring coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) despite warnings.
Last week, Pakistan had allowed airlines to operate additional 30% of flights in a revised policy.
According to a notification issued in this regard, additional flights were allowed to ensure passengers were able to travel abroad without any hindrances, while only cargo flights of foreign airlines were allowed to return to Pakistan.
This is in addition to the 20% of flights that were already allowed by the CAA to operate in Pakistan, the notification had stated.
As per the directives issued earlier by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the number of foreign flights operating to Pakistan was reduced to 20%, keeping in mind the prevalent coronavirus situation in the country and the region.
A week earlier, the CAA had noted "with grave concern" that passengers arriving in Pakistan from mostly Gulf countries, were testing positive for coronavirus despite possessing a negative PCR test result.
"Upon conducting an investigation into the issue, it has been found that passengers travelled to Pakistan using fake PCR negative test results and endangered not only passengers travelling with them, but also undermined the intense efforts being made at the national level to curb the spread of Covid-19," said the authority, in a notification that was released on May 10.
"The onus of contributing towards this national cause does not fall on the authority alone but is a responsibility that has to be shared by all concerned stakeholders including airline operators," it added.
The authority called upon airlines to verify PCR tests, adding that only those from government-approved laboratories should be deemed authentic.
"Only original reports are accepted prior to checking in passengers for flights and no copies are accepted. Passengers not registered through the Pass Track App are not accepted for travel to Pakistan," read the notification.
On Tuesday, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said more than 2,500 people tested positive for coronavirus in a single day.
Pakistan carried out 29,801 COVID-19 tests, out of which 2,566 returned positive while 135 died from the disease.
Punjab currently leads the provinces and federating units in most cases with 328,775, Sindh is second with 299,913 cases, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported 127,224 cases, Islamabad 79,371 cases, Balochistan 23,931 cases, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 18,286 cases, and Gilgit Baltistan 5,428 cases.
The current active cases of the country stand at 67,665 and 795,511 recoveries are reported country-wide.