Coronavirus: Pakistan repatriates 101 stranded passengers from Dubai

Hundreds have sought assistance from the Pakistan consulate in Dubai following flight suspensions

Row of aircraft at the stand

Pakistan has flown home more than 100 nationals who had become stranded at international airports due to the coronavirus.

Officials said 73 citizens were stuck at Dubai International Airport, five in Abu Dhabi International Airport and 26 at airports in other countries.

Some had been waiting in transit for two days before they were put aboard a flight from Dubai on Tuesday, according to authorities.

Those affected were given meals, water, medical supplies and blankets while arrangements were made to get them home.

“We have been approached by a lot of people who have been stuck because of these flight disruptions,” said Consul-General in Dubai Ahmed Amjad Ali.

“We are making arrangements with food rations so that people don’t suffer too much.”

Pakistan suspended all international flights from March 21 until April 4 to restrict the spread of Covid-19.

The country has so far recorded less than 1,000 cases of infections as well as 18 recoveries.

Its Consulate-General in Dubai has seen a big rise in enquiries by its citizens in the UAE wanting to return home.

Some are understood to have been told to take mandatory leave by their companies because of the outbreak.

Others have sought help after their tourist visas ran out but they were unable to travel home due to flight restrictions.

“I can’t give you an exact number [who have asked for help] because people have approached us every day,” Mr Ali said.

“At the moment it is in the hundreds and those numbers will be increasing.

“With a population of 1.2 million [Pakistani] people in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, there will be people who will be all alone here, so we need to cater for them.

“This is because of the coronavirus. Many people are stranded because their visas are finished [and] they cannot catch a flight back home. Many people are on forced leave by companies but they could not travel.

“Families are distressed. There are no flights operating from anywhere now so we will have to wait to repatriate people.

“But whatever we can do to make their life comfortable, we will do.”