Sindh Government Airport Mismanagement for COVID-19

The Sindh government should ensure that the health of nationals is not being compromised due to poor sanitation and lack of food at the quarantine camps set up at the airport

It has been over 30 days since the government of Pakistan announced a partial lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

To curtail the spread of COVID-19, the government had also announced shutting down airports and all airline services as the initial 100 cases of the virus were of nationals returning from their travel. However, opening of air travel was announced late March only to bring back Pakistani citizens stranded in countries, including the UAE, Australia and Canada.  

Following the necessary precautions for the novel coronavirus, the Sindh government took the decision to keep returning passengers at the airport for four to five days to monitor them for any coronavirus-related symptoms.

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In a press briefing, the Chief Minister of Sindh Murad Ali Shah ensured that the Pakistanis who’ve recently returned will be well taken care of and provided with food and shelter. But the ground realities are far different from what had been promised.

The Sindh government has come under fire for keeping people quarantined at the airport without the provision of basic necessities.

In a post shared on Halaat Updates recently, pictures and a video of the facility show poor sanitation and cleanliness, speaking volumes of the Sindh government’s mismanagement.

The post further mentioned there was no provision of food and water for over 2,000 people stuck at the airport, with 5,000 more nationals expected to arrive soon.  

Previously too, the condition of people stuck at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi was brought to the attention of the government however, no action was taken.

National Carrier Violates COVID-19 Precautionary Measures

On the other hand, special flights that Pakistan International Airline is bringing home have come under scrutiny for violating the social distancing rule on flights.

On April 27, a video posted in the group of a special flight from Canada showed passengers protesting against the violation. The Civil Aviation Authority had issued strict SOPs to the airline, which included ensuring social distancing. The precautionary measures were implemented to contain the spread of the virus.

However, instead of following the protocols and seating passengers with a one-seat gap in between, the national carrier had passengers seated right next to each other.

According to reports the national carrier is overcharging passengers as well. The passengers complained that PIA was charging them $3,000 for a flight that previously cost $1,400.

The spokesperson of the airline has since said, “The tickets were overpriced because the flight had to come back from Canada empty,” adding that the CAA SOPs were being strictly followed. The planes were disinfected and passengers were provided with gloves and masks.

It is pertinent to note that PIA will be flying more special flights in the month of April, as international travel has been banned till May 15. In such a scenario, it becomes important for the airline to follow protocols to ensure that the lives of passengers are not put at risk.

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