Torkham border closed again

-Interior Minister says border shut at NCOC’s advice 
-Entry protocols for Pakistanis stranded in Afghanistan notified

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: At the advice of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Pakistan has decided to shut a key border crossing with Afghanistan to stem the spread of the virus.Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said all types of immigration departure and arrival will be closed from Tuesday (yesterday) at the Torkham border.
The crossing will remain closed till the fresh Guidelines of NCOC, the minister said. The two countries have multiple crossing points but Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the one in Chaman are used most commonly by travellers.
Afghanistan is seeing an increase in virus cases, prompting Pakistan to take necessary steps.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Ministry of Interior notified testing and entry protocols to facilitate Pakistanis stranded in Afghanistan due to suspension of flight operation from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia.
“A large number of Pakistanis who planned to travel to KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] via Kabul [Afghanistan] have become stranded,” an Interior Ministry notification issued here said.
It said that due to COVID-19 surge in Afghanistan, Western border for all inbound and outbound pedestrians movement had been ceased from June 17, with only exception of the stranded Pakistanis in Afghanistan and stranded Afghanis in Pakistan besides extreme medical emergency cases from Afghanistan.
As per the notification, Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) would be performed on arrival of passengers, while positive cases would be quarantined for 10 days, and only travelers confirmed with negative covid results would be allowed to proceed to their home districts.
Similarly, a10-day quarantine would be mandatory under respective provincial and district administration for non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated persons.Whereas, the passengers would be vaccinated by provincial health staff at the end of quarantine period.
A reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test would be performed on 8th day of quarantine. “Provincial administration to ensure transportation of pedestrians from Torkham and Chaman border terminals to respective quarantine centre.” Only critical medical emergency cases from Afghanistan were allowed after undergoing necessary testing protocols, read the notification.
COVID-19 cases saw ‘definitive’ uptick:
Pakistan’s reported below 1,000 cases in a day for the first time in six days, as the country reported 830 new cases Tuesday morning.
The daily case count has been over 1,000 since July 1, prompting authorities to issue warnings amid the lax attitude of people towards SOPs. Another 25 people died of coronavirus in Pakistan in the last 24 hours, pushing the national death tally since the pandemic started to 22,452. The latest data issued by the NCOC shows that after 37,364 tests were conducted on July 5, 830 people tested positive for coronavirus. Pakistan’s positivity rate is currently 2.22%. A day earlier, Pakistan’s positivity rate was nearly 3%.
The total active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan are currently 33,390. Taking to Twitter on Monday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that since last week, there has been a “definitive uptick in cases, percentage positivity, and other parameters.” Dr Faisal appealed to the masses to continue following the government’s mandated coronavirus SOPs, including wearing masks, avoiding crowds and getting vaccinated, all of which can help prevent the spike in cases.