Pakistan detects first ‘suspected’ case of Omicron variant in Karachi

Pakistan has detected its first ‘suspected’ case of the Omicron variant in Karachi, said the provincial health minister on Thursday.
Sindh Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho said the authorities “suspect the case to be of the Omicron variant due to the virus’ behaviour”.
“The genome sequencing has not been done as of now, but we suspect it to be the Omicron variant due to the manner in which the virus is behaving”.
She added that the suspected Omicron-affected patient is a 57-year old woman from the provincial capital.
“The Omicron variant spreads quickly, but recent reports from South Africa suggest that the variant does not cause serious illness or a high number of deaths,” added the provincial health minister.
A spokesperson for the Aga Khan University Hospital confirmed the development and said they had “received the first patient suspected of having Covid-19 Omicron variant”.
“We are awaiting the results of the final (genome sequencing) confirmatory test, which will take a few days and have reported the suspected patient to the health department.”
He added that the patient has been discharged. “Our current COVID-19 prevention and management protocols are adequate for the treatment of the virus,” the hospital spokesperson assured.
Earlier this week, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) announced travel restrictions in the wake of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, adding 8 more countries, mostly European, in Category C, banning in-bound passengers.
With the latest expansion, the number of countries on Category C increased from 7 to 15. The list comprises The Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, Croatia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Vietnam, Poland, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
The NCOC added that there would be a complete ban on the passengers coming to Pakistan from Category C countries. It added that only ‘essential’ travel from those countries would be possible, subject to an exemption certificate from a special committee.
The forum further said that vaccination would be mandatory for all travellers coming to Pakistan, along with a PCR test, which would be mandatory for Pakistanis and foreigners above the age of 6 years, adding that the PCR test must be taken 48 hours before boarding.
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus was first detected by South African health authorities last month and dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO). Scientists are still gathering data to establish how contagious and severe it is.

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