Pakistani contracted Indian variant in Gulf

Published May 31, 2021
A paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus in Karachi. — Reuters/File
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) on Sunday released details of the only confirmed Pakistani infected by the Indian variant of Covid-19.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to chair a meeting of the National Coordination Com­mittee (NCC) on Monday (today), during which the virus situation in the country and the progress of the steps taken to check its spread will be discussed.

Besides, 56 patients succumbed to the dreaded virus and 2,697 more were infected during the last 24 hours as over seven million vaccines were administered across the country.

The NCOC shared details of the Pakistani citizen who had contracted the Indian strain, and claimed that effective screening and quarantine for international travellers had prevented secondary infections of the variant (B.1.617.2).

In a statement, it was informed that according to details shared by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the variant was detected in an asymptomatic Pakistani individual aged 39 years who was a resident of Azad Kashmir and had returned from a Gulf country.

“The case was picked through a screening system put in place for international arrivals when he landed on May 8 and showed a positive rapid test conducted at the airport. As per standard operating procedures (SOPs), he was quarantined at a government facility where additional testing (PCR) confirmed the presence of the Indian variant. The individual, however, had only mild symptoms during the quarantine period and was allowed to proceed home after completely recovering and upon completing mandatory isolation with further advice as per medical protocols,” the statement said.

It further said that the investigation team traced his family and contacts in the district of his residence and obtained their samples, which came back negative.

“The NIH team is further tracing his potential contacts during the air travel to rule out possibilities of infections,” the statement added.

“Appreciating the efficient screening and isolation system put in place for international travellers, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has stressed on airlines to strictly enforce SOPs for travellers, including mandatory test report from an authentic lab from the country of origin, it said, adding that the ministry had further urged the public to strictly observe the advised precautionary measures to stay protected from risks around them.

Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, on Saturday had said: “We have requested Prime Minister Khan to preside over the NCC meeting on Monday as we want to take the vaccination to the next level. So far over 11.4 million people have registered themselves. Earlier the entire official machinery — federal and provincial governments, National Institute of Health, National Disaster Management Authority, hospitals and district administrations — was involved in the vaccination drive. Now we want to involve the entire nation to expedite the inoculation process and achieve herd immunity at the earliest.”

In a tweet on Sunday, Mr Umar said: “We at the NCOC are committed to continue relentless efforts to overcome the challenge until the nation is safe from this virus. With the help of the nation and blessings of Allah, Insha Allah Pakistan will succeed #PakistanTacklesCorona.”

On the other hand, the NHS ministry spokesperson, Sajid Shah, said the government had a plan to utilise all vaccines in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the expert committee. He urged people to use the first available vaccine as all offered protection from serious disease almost 100 per cent.

The NCOC revealed that 383,955 people were vaccinated on May 29, with a total of 7,093,803 doses administered.

The data further showed that 2,697 cases and 56 deaths were reported in a single day. The number of active cases was recorded at 58,878 out of which 464 were on ventilators and 4,331 were admitted to various hospitals.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2021

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