NCOC Bans Air Travel for Unvaccinated Pakistanis

Joe Raedle-Getty Images North America—AFP

Sindh government imposes new penalties against unvaccinated citizens, including denying them medical treatment at public and private hospitals

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Friday announced it was prohibiting from Aug. 1 air travel for people who had not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Following a meeting to review prevailing indicators about the pandemic, the forum noted a rise in the spread of the “extremely dangerous” Delta variant that was first identified in India. “Failure to take precautionary measures against the Delta variant can lead to dangerous consequences,” it warned in a statement, stressing that hundreds of thousands had died due to the variant of concern in neighboring India. To forestall a potential fourth wave of COVID-19, it said, enforcement of safety precautions would be ramped up, especially over the next week ahead of Eidul Azha.

According to the NCOC, various proposals are being considered to curb unnecessary movement over Eid. It said that any additional curbs would be imposed in view of the prevailing spread of COVID-19. Pointing to a marked uptick in confirmed infections in tourist destinations such as Gilgit, the forum said that a ban could be imposed on tourist spots if cases continued to rise.

The forum reiterated that the country’s vaccination campaign needed to be ramped up to reduce the virus’ spread, and set July 31 as a deadline to achieve this goal. It said the conditions would apply to employees of the following sectors:

  • Private, corporate sector employees.
  • Small, medium and large industry employees.
  • Workers associated with agriculture and media; lawyers; factory workers; shopkeepers, including cart vendors.
  • Workers associated with the transport and hotel industries.
  • Gymnasium employees
  • Employees of mosques, including imams.
  • Employees of workshops and wedding halls

The NCOC also said that students aged 18 and above would be required to get vaccinated by Aug. 31. It said that all air travel would require a vaccination certificate after Aug. 1, adding that citizens over 30 would not be allowed to visit tourist spots without a vaccination certificate, while hotel bookings would also require vaccination certificates.

Sindh restrictions

Also on Friday, the Sindh government said that it was imposing new penalties on unvaccinated people in a bid to boost the province’s ongoing vaccination drive. In a statement, the Sindh Health Department said that the provincial government had decided to ban unvaccinated individuals from availing any medical treatment at public and private hospitals.

“For medical services at both public and private hospitals, COVID-19 vaccination certificate is mandatory. For test and interviews for jobs, candidates should show their COVID-19 vaccination certificates. All public and private institutions would be responsible to check COVID-19 vaccination certificates,” read the statement, adding that vaccination certificates were also a requirement for anyone wishing to enter marriage halls or restaurants.

The latest penalties follow an earlier decision of Sindh to block the salaries of government employees who had not gotten vaccinated by July 1. Announcing the measure, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had claimed “drastic measures” were required to boost vaccination numbers and curb the spread of COVID-19.

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