Banks directed not to ask for COVID-19 immunisation certificate from Haj applicants

WHO has declared COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency, says NCOC

M. Waqar Bhatti

The Covid Certificate application of Switzerland for COVID-19 certificates is seen in this illustration. — Reuters/File
The Covid Certificate application of Switzerland for COVID-19 certificates is seen in this illustration. — Reuters/File
  • WHO declared COVID-19 no longer public health emergency. 
  • Ministry asked to direct banks to not ask for certificates. 
  • Mandatory COVID-19 certificate has been abolished: NCOC.

ISLAMABAD: Health authorities in Pakistan on Wednesday directed all commercial banks not to ask for COVID-19 vaccination certificate from those submitting applications for Haj 2024. 

According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that COVID-19 is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). 

"[WHO] also lifted many international travel-related restrictions while it also declared that proof of vaccination for international travel is not a prerequisite anymore," it added. 

However, commercial banks receiving Haj applications were demanding COVID-19 vaccination certificates from the applicants, which is no longer a prerequisite for international travel, an official of the NCOC told The News and asked the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony to direct commercial banks not to insist for the COVID-19 vaccination certificates.

“Once balloting is done and people are selected, only then the question of COVID-19 vaccination would be raised and in this regard, any decision would be taken on the directives from Saudi authorities”, the official added.

Quoting ‘Guidelines for International Travel and Haj Pilgrims’ issued by the NCOC on Wednesday morning, the NCOC official said the requirement for a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine certificate at the time of arrival to the point of entry in Pakistan has been abolished.

Similarly, all inbound passengers will not be required to present a COVID-19 negative PCR report before boarding or on arrival, the NCOC official said adding that 2% screening for COVID-19 of passengers travelling from the UK, Gulf and other countries has also been abolished.

“But we are enhancing syndromic surveillance of all passengers arriving at the point of entry and strengthening infection prevention and control practices to contain the transmission of pathogens at the point of entry. All the above-mentioned policies shall be implemented with immediate effect until further orders”, the NCOC official added.