More Pakistanis repatriated tested COVID-19 positive than expected: Moeed Yusuf
A far greater number of repatriated Pakistanis have tested coronavirus positive than predicted, said Saturday Moeed Yusuf, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division and Foreign Policy Planning. “We have repatriated 15,000 Pakistanis from different countries so far, while there are still more than 100,000 Pakistanis stranded abroad in 88 different countries,” Yusuf told a press conference.
Giving a breakdown, the Premier’s aide said that there are more than 15,000 Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia waiting to return home. “Those wishing to return need to register with the embassies. The embassies will then decide depending on the urgency which plane you can board and on what date. The embassies are playing a crucial role in helping us,” he said.
Yusuf said that over the last 12 days, many more than expected, have tested positive for the virus. “Our main objective is to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said. “Which is why, when a passenger returns, he / she is obliged to quarantine for 48 hours. With this law there are no provisions for anyone. Passengers have the choice to either quarantine on their own expenses in hotels or stay for free in government centers.
The SAPM said, “Tests are carried out after two days, but there is no assurance that the results will come back in two days due to the high number of tests conducted each day.
” He added that they had received several concerns about the time taken for the test. “We perform over 9,500 tests every day in the country and we get concerns about test results that aren’t coming back in time.”
“We can’t let anyone return home without negative return of their test result. Even if your test is likely to return negative, there is a high likelihood that the others will be positive on the flight test and that the other passengers will also be able to test positive later, “he noted.
Yusuf further said that because of the limited testing capacity of the provinces, only 7,500 passengers can be brought at a time.
“Before flying our planes there to bring back passengers we have to negotiate with that country’s government. There is no guarantee that there will be a flight from that country, just because we have announced flights, “Yusuf remarked. He added, “Right now, because of the circumstances, the ticket prices are three to four times higher than normal and many people are unable to afford those prices which is why the PIA flights are for them,” he said.
The SAPM added that from 1st to 10th May they would run an additional 30 battles. “We are increasing our capacity to allow more stranded Pakistanis to return to their homes. We still have capacity issues which is why the provinces have been asked by the Prime Minister to improve their testing capacity.
“This week our focus will be on bringing back Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia and the African countries. As we keep increasing our testing capacity we can increase our number of flights,” he added.