All flights from Pakistan to the UAE will be suspended until a laboratory to test for Covid-19 is established, announced the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA).

The ban, which includes transit flights, comes on the heels of the news that 26 people onboard an Emirates flight from Pakistan to Hong Kong through Dubai had coronavirus. Emirates summarily suspended its flights from Pakistan on June 24.

The GCCA advised passengers affected by the suspension to reschedule their flights with their airline.

The virus is hitting Pakistan hard, with a recorded 206,512 cases and 4,167 deaths. Many Pakistan nationals living in the UAE have lost their jobs, with long queues forming outside travel centres to wait for repatriation flights.

Consul-general of the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai, Ahmed Amjad Ali, said Pakistan’s biggest repatriation programme had transported 30,229 stranded citizens from Dubai and the Northern Emirates back to Pakistan.

The consulate has been providing assistance to Pakistani residents during the crisis, from providing laptops to students to the distribution of free airline tickets.

Ration packs were distributed among 17,000 needy families, with the consulate also providing food and housing to 460 homeless Pakistan citizens in Dubai.