Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yusuf has said that every Pakistani who returns to the country from abroad will immediately undergo a test at the quarantine centre or at hotel after landing.

“When passengers return they will immediately undergo a test unlike our previous policy of waiting for 48 hours,” Yusaf said during a press conference on Monday.

“The passengers can go and have their tests done either at a private facility or a government facility. After their test results come back, it will be up to the provincial governments to decide whether they want to send those who have tested negative for the virus to isolate at home or not,” he said.

He added that according to the new policy, provinces have been directed to conduct the tests of the returning passengers as soon as possible.

“If the test comes back negative, passengers can self-isolate at home,” he said, adding that the increased testing will put a load on the country’s testing facilities, however, it was their priority to make sure people returned home safely.

The SAPM added that they were also trying to make the Sialkot airport operational as soon as possible.

Speaking about the number of Pakistanis repatriated so far, Yusaf said, 20,000 people had returned while more than 100,000 still wanted to come back.

“Till now 20,000 Pakistanis have been brought back home. Next week we will try to bring back around 10,000 Pakistanis from 22 countries, mostly from the Gulf states,” he said.

He added that the government's focus this week would be on the United States after PIA was allowed to operate flights. “We will also have flights from UK, Britain and some African countries as well,” Yousaf added.

Moreover, he added, they had spoken to countries in the Middle East from where Pakistanis were returning to have the passengers tested before boarding.

“The passengers will be tested again in Pakistan as well,” he added.