ISLAMABAD                 -            Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development has affirmed that more than 1,000 Pakistanis stranded abroad have been brought back home after the partial resumption of international flight operations on April, 4.

“The evacuation of those Pakistanis, who were stuck up at the foreign airports in transit, is government’s top priority,” a senior officer in the ministry said here on Tuesday while sharing the data of Pakistanis airlifted so far.

Under the first phase, she said, 195 were brought back home from Istanbul, 170 from Thailand, 150 each from the United Kingdom and Canada, 132 from Dushanbe, 128 from Uzbekistan, 101 from the United Arab Emirates and 40 from Qatar.

She said the remaining Pakistanis, who were still in transit, would be brought back this current week. “Those Pakistanis, whose visas got expired, would be airlifted under the second phase that would commence next week,” she informed.

Talking to APP, an official in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration said, “Not a single Pakistani could go home without screening, testing and quarantining.”

He said the city administration had been tasked with providing quarantine facilities to Pakistanis, returning from abroad. Some 14 quarantine facilities had been arranged in the federal capital so far, he added.

The ICT official said the administration had also arranged quarantine facilities for the passengers who reached home on board two flights the other day. “Tests of those who had returned recently had been conducted and sent to the health authorities,” he added.

As of now, he said, around 20 Pakistanis, who came back from Turkey, had tested positive for the coronavirus while rest of the returnees had been sent home after their test results were found negative.

“Elaborated arrangements for screening of the returnees have been made at the various airports to stem the spread of virus,” said an official source in the CAA.

Disinfection of operational airports was also being done on regular basis, he added.

He further said that those Pakistanis who were evacuated were being sent to the various quarantine centres after their screening at the airports.

According the CAA spokesperson, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for international arrivals at airports had been modified to control spread of the Covid-19.

Under the new SOPs, everyone would be screened as per practice upon arrival from international flights. The swab sample shall not be collected at the airport.

All passengers and flight crew would be quarantined for 24 hours at a location decided by the authorities. After 24 hours swab sample shall be collected for test at the designated facility.

Anyone with positive test result shall be retained at the quarantine or other relevant location. Those with negative test result shall be allowed to leave with strict instructions and guidance for home quarantine. Data of all passengers and flight crew with their mobile numbers will be kept for record and further follow-up.

The spokesman said that new directives would be applicable on all passengers and flight crew with immediate effect.