Three patients tested positive for UK Covid-19 variant stable

Published December 31, 2020
A man wearing a protective mask walks outside a shopping area in Karachi on Dec 29. — Reuters/File
A man wearing a protective mask walks outside a shopping area in Karachi on Dec 29. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: Three female patients, who were recently tested positive for the potentially more contagious Covid-19 variant, are stable and under home isolation, health department sources told Dawn on Wednesday. The patients are aged between 19 and 37.

According to the sources, the areas where they lived in are under ‘micro smart lockdown’ whereas their houses are under police surveillance.

Upon contact, a health department official said preliminary results showed that the patients were positive for the new Covid-19 variant. Further blood samples, however, had been obtained and were being tested at the Aga Khan University Hospital to get more details about the pathogen and its effects on the body.

“The results will be available in a few days. All patients were asymptomatic when they were tested. They are stable,” he said.

Sources said the health department had so far traced contacts of 89 UK travellers, including these three patients, and none of them had been found positive for the new Covid-19 variant.

The department, he said, was engaged in rigorous monitoring at the airport since Dec 15 onwards and information about the travellers having UK origin was being communicated by the National Command Operation Centre in Islamabad.

No more contacts of 89 UK travellers so far traced found positive for new variant

It may be recalled that the health department a day earlier confirmed that three UK returnees were tested positive for the new Covid-19 variant.

“Twelve 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 genotyping showed 95 per cent match of the new variant from the UK. These samples will go through another phase of genotyping. Meanwhile, the contact tracing of these patients is in process and their contacts are also being isolated,” said a statement by the health department.

According to the federal health ministry, two samples from patients suspected to have the new Covid-19 variant are being analysed at the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The first case of the new variant of coronavirus (B.1.1.7) 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. Since then, it has spread to over 50 countries.

According to experts, there is no evidence that the variant is any deadlier than previously known strains of the coronavirus, or that it makes people any sicker or is resistant to the vaccines that have been developed. But a study released last week by a team of UK scientists estimated that it’s 56pc more contagious. The British government had earlier said the variant might be up to 70pc more transmissible.

Much remains to be discovered about the variant.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020

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