New coronavirus strain not detected in Pakistan yet: Health Ministry | Pakistan Today

New coronavirus strain not detected in Pakistan yet: Health Ministry

–KP traces, identifies 98 of 149 UK-returned passengers; 2 diagnosed with Covid

–Faisal says Covid vaccine to be procured on basis of ‘transparent scientific data’

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Friday emphasised that the new strain of coronavirus, identified in Britain, has not made it to Pakistan yet.

In a statement issued on Twitter, the ministry said the situation in Pakistan is being closely monitored and all the passengers arriving from the United Kingdom are being evaluated. “As of today, no such variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in Pakistan,” it said. “The National Institute of Health is sensitive and on alert regarding this new strain for timely detection and address.”

On December 21, Pakistan banned the entry of passengers from the UK into Pakistan over fears concerning the highly infectious new coronavirus strain. A slew of countries closed their borders to Britain, suspending travel for Britons after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a mutated variant of the virus had been identified in the country.

The decision to ban travel from the UK was taken by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on a day when the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) cancelled all flights to and from Saudi Arabia. “Temporary restriction is being put in place on inbound travellers from the UK (whether direct or indirect) into Pakistan to be effective from midnight Dec 22 until Dec 29,” the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in its notification.

Meanwhile, at least two people who recently travelled to Pakistan from the UK have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) while reports of 25 others are awaited.

KP Health Secretary Imtiaz Hussain Shah said that a total of 149 passengers recently arrived in the province from the UK – 44 out of whom have been traced along with 32 of their contacts. Another 54 passengers have been identified across seven districts including Peshawar, Swabi and Nowshera, and the district administration has been directed to trace them.

The government has been unable to trace 46 people because they provided incorrect residential addresses. Shah said four people tested negative in the first round of testing.

The two Covid-19 patients were identified in Peshawar and Abbottabad and are currently under quarantine. Shah said further tests will be conducted at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad which will determine the nature of the strain.

After the British government officially announced the detection of the mutation, many countries, including Pakistan, have imposed travel bans on the UK.

Meanwhile, coronavirus has infected 2,152 people and claimed 85 more lives, taking the death toll to 9,753, during the past 24 hours, said NCOC on Friday.

Senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Amir Khan is among the 2,152 people infected during the last 24 hours. After being diagnosed with the Covid-19, Amir Khan has quarantined himself at his residence and has appealed to masses and the party workers to pray for his recovery.

The second wave of the Covid-19 has claimed several lives of people belonging to various walks of life including, journalists, politicians, and judges, and others. On November 30, MQM-P leader and former provincial minister Sindh Muhammad Adil Siddiqui died due to complications caused by the novel coronavirus.

According to the NCOC, with fresh inclusion of 2,152 infections in the country, the national tally of cases now currently stands at 467,222. A total of 1,824 patients have recovered from the virus during the last 24 hours and 2,382 patients are in critical condition. The total count of active cases currently stands at 38,511.

A total of 39,435 tests were conducted across the country during the last 24 hours while 6,482,889 samples have been tested thus far. Overall 418,958 people have recovered from the deadly disease so far.

Meanwhile, Punjab health authorities recorded 471 new coronavirus cases, taking the provincial tally to 134,345. At least 48 people succumbed to the virus. The death toll stands at 3,831.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, two more patients succumbed to Covid-19 during the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 101. According to health officials, five more people contracted the disease as the tally reached 4,843. They further said that 22 more patients recovered from the disease, taking the total to 4,671

In Sindh, at least 915 new coronavirus cases emerged at 7.8 per cent positivity rate during the past 24 hours, taking the tally to 209,429. According to Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, 22 more people succumbed to the deadly virus as the death toll reached 3,462. As many as 705 more patients recovered, taking the total to 186,353.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan has said that the government will prefer to import Covid-19 vaccine based on transparent scientific research data.

Talking to a private news channel, he said that six major international pharmaceutical companies are at the forefront of developing the coronavirus vaccine, but the company that will present scientific research data in a transparent manner will be contacted in this regard.

The special assistant on health said that providing low cost and quality vaccines to the people is a target, however, it is important to be completely safe instead of low cost. Dr Faisal made it clear that there will be no compromise on the quality of the vaccine.

The Law Today Pakistan (TLTP) is an independent news service.