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Indian coronavirus variant forces Norway, Iran, Qatar to introduce travel restrictions for Pakistanis

Norway, Iran, and Qatar on Wednesday joined a growing number of countries placing restrictions or closing their borders for Pakistani citizens out of worry that they may bring the Indian variant of the coronavirus to their territories.

“The rate of infections is very high in India, among other countries. In order to limit the risk of imported cases of new COVID-19 variants, we are now introducing stricter entry restrictions for travellers arriving from India and its neighbouring countries, as well as Iraq”, said Norway’s Justice and Public Security Minister Monica Maeland in a statement issued by the Norwegian government.

The press release stated that travellers coming from Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Nepal, and Pakistan will have to quarantine at a hotel upon arrival to Norway.

“This means that people who undertake necessary travel to these countries will also be required to stay at a quarantine hotel,” said the statement.

The Nordic countries said that the mandatory quarantine requirements will come into effect on Wednesday, April 28 at 12pm.

Qatar issues quarantine policy for Pakistani travellers

Like Norway,  Qatar’s Public Health Ministry made it mandatory for passengers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines to quarantine at a hotel.

Qatari newspaper The Peninsula stated that under the new policy, a 10-day hotel quarantine for all passenger from the six countries is mandatory even if they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Apart from this, the travellers will also have to have a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken from the designated health facilities 48 hours before their departure for Qatar.

“The travellers will undergo a repeat PCR test at their quarantine facility within 24 hours of their arrival, and will be tested again before the end of their quarantine period,” said the publication.

Iran closes land borders with Pakistan

On the other hand, Iran, which shut down air travel to and from Pakistan, announced that it will be closing its land border as well with the country, reported Fars News Agency.

“The Southeastern borders with Pakistan would only allow the return of Iranian and Pakistani nationals to their countries after the new ban is imposed on Wednesday,” said a statement issued by the Iranian customs office that was carried by the publication.

Furthermore, Iranian Customs Office Spokesman Rouhollah Latifi said that Tehran will introduce “hygiene controls” on trucks arriving from Pakistan for the next 10 days. 

He also shared that commercial vessels from Pakistan will only be allowed to load and unload at Iranian ports after going through some strict checks and controls.

Pakistan records highest single-day death toll of COVID-19 pandemic

The restrictions and border closure come as Pakistan reported 201 new coronavirus-related fatalities in the last 24 hours, which is the highest single-day death toll recorded since the outbreak last year.

This is the first time coronavirus deaths in the country have crossed the 200-mark.

According to the official data from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which synergises government efforts against COVID-19, the death toll in the country reached 17,329 with the latest surge.

Pakistan also reported the highest deaths of people on ventilators, with 84 fatalities today.

There are now 1,045 deaths reported on ventilators since April 2021. In the last 10 days, 473 people on ventilators have lost their lives to coronavirus.

As of today, 664 vents are occupied across the country whereas there are no patients on the life support system in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Balochistan.

Pakistan conducted 49,101 tests for coronavirus, out of which 5,292 returned positive. The total tally of coronavirus cases stands at 810,231 country-wide with the highest cases reported in Punjab so far.

The country’s positivity rate has risen to 10.77%, with 88,207 active cases, while the number of recoveries nationwide has reached 704,494 so far.

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