KARACHI: As three cases of the potentially more contagious coronavirus variant first detected in the UK was confirmed recently by the health department of Sindh, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) suggested to the masses not to get panicked.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of NHS, Sajid Shah said that out of five samples, two were being analysed at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and three at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi.
According to the Sindh health department, 12 samples of UK returnees were taken for genotyping out of which six were positive and three showed the new variant of coronavirus in the first phase.
The NHS ministry said, “Based on the preliminary analysis, five samples of Covid-19 may have the variant reported in the UK. That particular variant may be more transmissible but therein evidence so far to suggest that the infection caused by this variant is more severe. This strain has also been detected in other countries.
The first case of the new variant of coronavirus can be traced back to late September in the south of England, indicating that there was ample time for it to spread undetected across the UK and into other countries.
Now that the alarm has been raised, scientists around the globe are actively searching for and tracking this variant that is thought to pass more easily between people.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) had also recommended suspension of flight operations with the UK and also issued new guidelines for passengers who had arrived from the UK or the Pakistanis travelling from different countries to Pakistan in coming days.
NIH Executive Director Maj Gen Aamer Ikram had predicted that sooner or later the virus would reach Pakistan as the incubation period of the virus was six days and there were chances that a carrier of the virus would be declared negative in the UK and later found positive after arriving Pakistan. He suggested that every passenger should be tested and quarantined to ensure that the virus was detected.
“The government has taken a number of steps to respond to this development. On the 21st December 2020, the NCOC decided to limit and restrict travel from the UK to Pakistan only to certain categories of travellers and only under strict protocols that mandated a negative PCR test before the flight, a PCR test upon arrival in Pakistan and quarantine as prescribed by the authorities. Moreover, track, trace and quarantine policy were also initiated for passengers who had arrived from the UK.”
These measures are in place until 4th January 2021, as per sources.