Pakistan on Saturday banned travel from six South African countries and Hong Kong following the emergence of new Covid variant named ‘Omicron’. “Based on the emergence of the new covid variant, notification has been issued restrict travel from 6 south african countries and Hong Kong”, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on his official twitter account. The minister who is also Chairman of National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said the emergence of new variant makes it even more urgent to vaccinate all eligible citizens 12 years and older. A statement by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said that a ban on direct or indirect inbound travel from South Africa, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, and Eswatini has been imposed, with the countries placed in Category C “with immediate effect”. The NCOC said Pakistani passengers travelling from these countries on “extreme emergency” will only be allowed after obtaining exemptions and ensuring the following protocols: vaccination certificate; max 72-hour-old negative PCR report before boarding; rapid antigen test (RAT) on arrival at the airport; RAT negative cases will undergo three-day mandatory home quarantine and re-RAT will be conducted on third day; RAT positive cases will undergo 10 days mandatory quarantine at government or self-paid facilities; their PCR test will be conducted on the 10th day in quarantine. However, to facilitate stranded Pakistanis, travel from these countries will be allowed till December 5, 2021, without exemption, but the aforementioned protocols will be applicable, the NCOC said. In the statement, the NCOC also directed Aviation Division, airport management, and the Airport Security Force to devise a mechanism for screening passengers traveling from the above-mentioned countries through indirect flights and share it with all the concerned authorities by November 29. NCOC urged people to take coronavirus safety precautions “seriously” in view of the new variant. “Please ensure that your vaccination is complete, wear a mask and isolate yourself or get tested in case of any symptoms! Stay safe!!!” it wrote.