Khalida Niaz

Federal government has decided to waive the Covid-19 vaccine booster dose fee for international travelers.

Earlier, National Command and Operation Center, had decided to charge international travelers Rs 1,270 for the booster shot.

Pakistani expatriates and international travelers have welcomed this decision. Huma Saeed, who is pursuing PhD in Food Science and Technology from a Chinese university, termed the decision as step in right direction. She said that she frequently travels to China in connection with her studies. Ms Saeed said that previously she was charged Rs 1270 for a booster dose.

“Abolishing the fee for the booster dose is a good thing,” she said.

She said that it will reduce economic burden on students and other travelers.

On the other hand, NCOC has issued a notification to abolish the booster dose’s fee for international travelers.

However it said that international travelers can get the booster dose for free after showing their travelling documents.

“Citizens with travel requirements can get one or two additional doses of vaccine free of cost with minimum gap of 21/28 days from previous dose,” NCOC said.

Pakistan is among world top labor exporting countries

On the other hand, Pakistan is one of the world’s top labor exporting countries. These expatriate Pakistanis contribute billions of dollars in remittances every year. International Labor Organization (ILO) data shows that 11 million Pakistani are living abroad, with about 96 per cent of them in Gulf countries.

Highest numbers of 2.7 million Pakistanis work in Saudi Arabia while 1.5 million are in UAE. State Bank of Pakistan data puts the figure of Pakistani expatriates at 9 million and 2 million of them belong to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Bureau of Immigration and Overseas Employment figures show that Mardan, Swat and Dir district top the list of KP areas in terms of expatriate working abroad.

Rafiquddin, a Pakistani laborer in Saudi Arabia hailed the decision to abolish the booster dose fee. He said that this will provide relief to the expats.

Mr Rafiq said that a large number of Malakand people work abroad and they were already under a lot of stress due to pandemic. “We are facing issues due to hike of air fare, costs related to mandatory Covid-19 tests,” he said.

He said that in such a situation, waiving of booster dose fee, will be like a breath of fresh air.

Mr Rafiq said that government can help to alleviate the problems of Pakistani exapts.

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