UAE travel: Pakistanis remain stranded due to unavailability of rapid PCR test facilities

Web DeskWeb Editor

05th Aug, 2021. 07:21 pm
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Pakistani expatriates continue to remain stranded in their home country. They cannot fly to the UAE due to the unavailability of the rapid antigen test facilities at airports in the country, Khaleej Times reported.

“There is no rapid antigen test facility at [the] Pakistani airports. Therefore, [the] passengers are not able to board flights. The UAE strictly follows SOPs [standard operating procedures], and permits passengers into the country who meet all guidelines and conditions,” Sohail Nazar, UAE country manager at Airblue, said.

After flights being suspended for months, the UAE authorities, earlier this week, allowed fully vaccinated residents from Pakistan, and some other countries, to enter the country from August 5.

Airports in Pakistan will now have to arrange rapid antigen test facilities within the premises of the airport.

“All airlines are faced with this challenge because none of the airports in Pakistan have this facility. Importantly, the condition is, the rapid antigen test has to be conducted within the airport’s premises and not in any other facility outside the airport. The test has to be done four hours before the departure of the flight,” the country manager of Airblue said.

Some laboratories in Pakistan are currently offering rapid antigen tests, but, according to Nazar, it is of no use, as the test has to be conducted within the airport premises.

“We had a meeting with the officials in the UAE, and they’re very clear about it. [the] local authorities need to set up a rapid antigen test facility at [the] Pakistani airports. Hopefully, this issue will be settled in a few days,” he added.

Shahid Mughal, regional manager for the UAE at the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), said that the national carrier will set up mobile labs at the airports and the UAE-bound passengers can take their rapid antigen tests there.

Currently, PIA operates international flights to the UAE from Peshawar, Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot, Multan and Karachi.

Malik Tauqeer, a passenger at the Lahore International Airport, confirmed that the travellers could not board the flights to the UAE, as airports don’t have rapid antigen test facilities.

“Please do not book your flights and spend money on PCR or any other tests unless it is clear that they have (rapid antigen test) facilities at the airport. [The] travellers waiting outside (the airport) have come from far distances, but now they can’t fly to [the] UAE,” Tauqeer added.

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