Pakistan detects its first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus

Omicron cases have been confirmed in five South Asian countries now, including India and Sri Lanka 

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 09 December 2021 10:25
<p>File image: Pakistan has tightened restrictions in light of the new omicron variant </p>

File image: Pakistan has tightened restrictions in light of the new omicron variant

Pakistan has detected its first case of the Covid omicron variant that has now spread to almost 60 countries.

Authorities on Thursday announced that the first case had been found in Pakistan’s most populous city of Karachi in a resident who was undergoing treatment at a private hospital.

Without revealing any further details, spokesperson for the southern province of Sindh told Reuters news agency that the person was unvaccinated and had recently travelled to another country.

The spokesperson added that the infected person’s contacts were being traced.

Earlier on Thursday, Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sindh province’s minister for health and population welfare, released a statement saying a 57-year-old woman was “suspected” to be infected with the omicron variant but authorities were waiting for genome sequencing.

She said the speculation was based on the way the “virus was behaving”.

“Omicron is highly transmissible but no serious illnesses have been reported from South Africa,” Ms Pechuho said, urging Pakistanis to get vaccinated and get booster shots.

While more scientific data is required to ascertain how transmissible and lethal the virus is, early studies have suspected that it could be more virulent and so evade the protection of vaccines.

Initial lab tests conducted by Pfizer have shown the variant may undermine antibody protection provided by a standard double dose. Researchers believe a third, or even a fourth, dose could be required.

Pakistan is administering booster jabs to healthcare workers or citizens who are either over the age of 50 or are immunocompromised. The country has also tightened border restrictions with all inbound passengers required to have a negative RT-PCR report.

Two dozen cases of the omicron variant have already been confirmed in neighbouring India, with three other South Asian countries also reporting confirmed cases.

On Wednesday, the island nation of Maldives reported its first case. Sri Lanka and Nepal have also confirmed cases of the new variant.

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