Pakistan begins random Covid testing of inbound travellers at airports


ISLAMABAD, MAY 15 /DNA/ – The National Institute of Health (NIH) on Sunday decided to increase the scope of the ongoing Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) of inbound travellers at international airports across the country in view of the global coronavirus situation, it said in a statement.

In a series of tweets today, the institute — which has been heading Pakistan’s Covid-19 response after the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was formally shut down — said that RATs were being conducted on a random basis as a measure to monitor Covid-19 activity. “After reviewing the recent global situation of Covid-19, and the directive of the Federal Minister Health, CDC, NIH has advised CHE (Central Health Establishment) to increase the scope of existing ongoing RATs for Covid-19 at international airports in a systematic way, for passengers from different countries,” it stated.

NIH added that the main aim of the decision was to remain vigilant and conduct surveillance and monitoring at entry points to rapidly detect any infected case.

Random screening of travellers arriving from Gulf states and Saudi Arabia began at Kara­chi, Lahore and Islamabad airports yesterday. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), RAT would now be conducted at the three airports for all inbound flights from the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia as per proportion.

Initially, Rapid Antigen Test of 10 to 15 passengers arriving on planes having 150 seats and between 15 and 20 travellers arriving on aircraft with minimum capacity of 250 seats will be conducted, the CAA spokesman said.

The measures, he added, were being implemented in light of the health ministry’s advice and would remain in effect until further notice.