After Sialkot Airport, More Three Major Airports Installing Rapid PCR Test Facility in Pakistan

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) has started work on installing rapid PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing facilities for passengers traveling to the UAE from Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi, a spokesperson for the authority has said.

The UAE lifted a ban on transit passenger traffic from India, Pakistan, Nigeria and other countries on August 5, but requires passengers traveling from these destinations to present negative rapid PCR tests taken no longer than four hours prior to departure. The PCAA had earlier said the country did not have the resources to conduct rapid PCR tests, and only rapid antigen testing (RAT) was currently available at Pakistani airports.

The more expensive PCR test detects the presence of viral RNA and can determine a COVID-19 infection even before the person becomes infectious, allowing for early isolation. The RAT test detects viral proteins, revealing patients at the peak of the infection when the body has the highest concentration of proteins.

“Different laboratories have informed [us] that they have procured Rapid PCR testing machines and will be able to install them at airports within next few days,” PCAA spokesperson Ismail Khoso told Arab News on Wednesday. “We are also in touch with the foreign ministry to get relaxation from the UAE government.”

So far, Sialkot International Airport is the only airport in Pakistan to install a rapid PCR testing facility.

Sialkot introduced the testing facility on Monday as an initiative by local businessmen. The airport itself has the distinction of being the first privately owned public airport in Pakistan, built through funding and efforts by the business community of Sialkot. Along with the nearby cities of Gujranwala and Gujrat, Sialkot forms part of the so-called “Golden Triangle” of Pakistan’s industrial cities with export-oriented economies.

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