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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide on national security, Moeed Yusuf said 17 PIA planes will be dispatched to different parts of the world to bring back 2,000 stranded Pakistanis…reports Asian Lite News

The Pakistan government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown for another two weeks until April 14 to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the country, it was reported.

This was announced by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar to the media after a meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC) on COVID-19, held here on Wednesday, The Express Tribune reported.

Umar said the forum will soon meet again to decide whether to relax or increase the restrictions.

The Minister said that stranded overseas Pakistanis will be brought back to the country in a special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight on April 4.

The passengers will be first tested and sent for quarantine to ensure they do not spread the coronavirus, he added.

In the first stage, Umar said, the international flights will resume from Islamabad airport followed by Karachi.

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Pakistan security officials guard border

“Lockdown throughout the country is bearing fruit as number of cases would have been much higher if containment steps were not taken in a timely manner,” he said.

Also speaking to the media, the Prime Minister’s aide on national security, Moeed Yusuf said 17 PIA planes will be dispatched to different parts of the world to bring back 2,000 stranded Pakistanis.

The announcement comes as the overall number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan has increased to 2,238 with 31 deaths.

Flight Operations

The Pakistan government has been considering restoring regular flight operations after April 4 and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued the Airline Operational Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the April 4-11 period, according to a spokesman

Spokesman for the Aviation Division Abdul Sattar Khokhar, who is also a senior joint secretary, said on Wednesday that “a final decision has not been taken yet” on the restoration of flight operations, reports Dawn news.

He, however, confirmed that the CAA has issued an advisory to ensure the safety of passengers and crew members to minimise the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic and recommended some preventive measures in case a decision is taken regarding resuming regular flights.

ISLAMABAD, April 7, 2018 (Xinhua) -- A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft is seen after landing at New Islamabad International Airport during a test flight in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, on April 7, 2018. The test flight of Pakistan International Airlines on Saturday landed at the New Islamabad International Airport, which is expected to be officially inaugurated on April 20. (Xinhua/IANS) by .
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft is seen after landing at New Islamabad International Airport during a test flight in Islamabad. (Xinhua/IANS)

The government had suspended operations of all international passenger flights, and chartered and private inbou­nd flights to Pakistan from March 21 to April 4.

According to the SOP, the planes will be disinfected in accordance with rules prescribed by the CAA before passengers’ boarding, with the process to be logged in aircraft documents.

A passenger health declaration form will be distributed to all potential travellers inbound to Pakistan through the CAA website, social media and through the airlines’ websites.

The form is required to be filled and signed by all passengers or guardians (in case of infants/disabled) before check-in at the port of embarkation, the SOP added.

According to the SOP, the passengers are to comply with the instructions during travel to Pakistan which are in addition to other instructions mandated for safe air travel or as given by the cabin crew from time to time during the flight, Dawn news reported.

The CAA said after the completion of boarding, the senior purser/lead cabin crew will take a picture of each aircraft zone displaying passengers seated with mask and gloves on.

The photograph will be submitted to the CAA staff concerned electronically/through WhatsApp.

The airline will maintain copies of these images in its record.

Also ReadFOOD CRISIS: Pak Minorities Seek India’s Help

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