Two cases of new strain confirmed in Pakistan: NCOC

Published January 5, 2021
In this file photo, a paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus in Karachi. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, a paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus in Karachi. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Com­mand and Operation Centre (NCOC) has said that two cases of the new strain of coronavirus have been confirmed in Pakistan amid reports that the new strain has reached 31 countries of the world.

Moreover, the number of daily cases and mortalities, which surpassed the figures of 3,000 and 100, respectively, in December, has started declining as 1,895 cases and 39 deaths were reported across the country in a single day on Monday.

According to a statement issued by NCOC, the National Institute of Health (NIH) had confirmed the presence of B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant in two individuals who visited the United Kingdom (UK).

“This is the follow-up to preliminary reports of the existence of the variant, which have now been confirmed via whole-genome sequencing. Since the emergence of the new coronavirus variant in the UK, which was reported in December 2020, the Ministry of National Health Services has been testing all passengers coming from the UK for SARS-CoV-2,” the NCOC statement said.

The Covid-19 variant has reached 31 countries

It claimed that the variant virus had also been detected in 31 other countries of the world so far. The preliminary epidemiological and clinical findings suggest that B.1.1.7 variant virus may have a higher transmissibility, but without any evidence of increased severity of illness.

Earlier on Dec 29, the NCOC had clai­med that based on the preliminary analysis, five samples of Covid-19 may have the variant reported in the UK. It later said that of the five samples, two were being analysed at the NIH and three at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi. However on Monday it was claimed that there were only two confirmed cases.

An official who attended the NCOC meeting said on condition of anonymity that the patients confirmed with virus belonged to Karachi and Rawalpindi.

“However, it has been decided not to share details of the patients, their gender and even cities to avoid panic in the masses,” he said.

Meanwhile, NCOC data showed that while 308 vents were occupied across the country, 42 per cent ventilators were occupied in both Islamabad and Multan; 35pc vents in Lahore and 32pc in Peshawar. As for as oxygen beds were concerned, 58pc beds were occupied in Peshawar, 33pc in Islamabad, 33pc in Multan 33pc and 32pc in Karachi. Total active cases on Monday were 35,722.

The positivity rate has declined in the country from 7pc to 6pc over the last three weeks.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2021

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