Travel

Qatar Airways Mandates COVID-19 Testing For Pakistani Passengers

All travellers flying out of Pakistan need to present a negative laboratory-issued COVID-19 test before they can board with Qatar Airways. The new rule begins on Monday, July 13th. Passengers ought to complete the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests within 72 hours of their flight departure.

Qatar Airways passengers must undergo COVID-19 testing if they wish to fly from Pakistan. Photo: Qatar Airways

Before such rules came into fruition, UAEAE suspended flights from Pakistan entering the state entirely. The travel ban started on June 29th and will end tomorrow, when laboratory testing begins.

With COVID-19 testing made mandatory, Qatar Airways aims to put passenger health as a priority.

“To ensure all customers can travel safely with Qatar Airways, from July 13th we will require passengers departing from all our gateways in Pakistan to undertake a COVID-19 PCR test before travel,” the airline told Simple Flying.

The airline has previously encountered incidents involving passengers testing positive for the coronavirus onboard. Thus, the new rule hopes to eradicate such issues from occurring again.

Currently, Qatar Airways operates flights to the Pakistani cities of Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi.

How to get PCR testing done?

The airline has implemented strict rules to ensure the tests done are reliable and up to date. As such, the PCR tests must be done in one of the four registered laboratories under Qatar Airways, within 72 hours of boarding. Passengers cannot board their plane if the test is not done in one of the registered labs.

“Children below the age of 12 are exempted from the test when accompanied by family members,” said a Qatar spokesperson.

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Qatar Airways PCR Test Pakistan Passengers
PCR tests must be completed within 72 hours of departure. Photo: Qatar Airways

These tests must be at the passenger’s expense. Once completed, the laboratory will send over the test results to the carrier – with the consent of the traveler. However, passengers must remember still to bring along the PCR negative test certificate for check-in.

According to Qatar Airways,

“In the event that passengers are unable to provide the above-mentioned requirements [negative certificate and laboratory test] upon check in, they will not be accepted for boarding the flight from Pakistan. These requirements apply to both existing and new bookings.”

 If a traveller receives a positive test result for the virus, they cannot board. These customers of Qatar can reschedule their flight or exchange it for a travel voucher with 10% additional value. Additionally, customers who submit their positive test report may request for a full refund.

PIA makes testing mandatory

PIA Boeing 777-200
Pakistan’s national carrier resumed flights to the Middle East last week. Photo: Getty Images

Passengers taking Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to UAEAE are also subjected to mandatory testing. PIA resumed flights to the Middle East state on July 9th. The carrier has made it mandatory for travelers to be COVID-19 free before boarding.

While Qatar Airways requires passengers to get tested less than 72 hours prior, PIA expects travelers to get checked within 96 hours. According to Gulf News, the flag carrier also requires passengers to fill up a health declaration form, which can be found online. More information can be found here.

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Worsening COVID-19 situation in Pakistan

To date, Pakistan has surpassed 246,000 positive cases, with 5,123 deaths. On Friday, The Times of India stated that the South Asian nation had hit the 11th spot of worst-affected countries by the pandemic. Pakistan has even overtaken Italy in terms of the number of coronavirus cases.

South Korea now limits the entry of passengers flying in from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Korean Air, Eastar Jet, Jin Air
Travelers from Bangladesh and Pakistan cannot enter South Korea due to the worsening condition of COVID-19. Photo: Getty Images

The move came at the end of June after the country experienced fresh new cases of the virus due to eased travel restrictions. The Business Standard reports that government officials and those traveling for business are exempt from the rule.

What do you think about Qatar Airways’ move to ensure mandatory COVID-19 testing? Are you flying from Pakistan soon? Let us know in the comments.


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