Detection of new Covid variants worries KP health department

Published July 9, 2021
The health department will also start immunisation of Pakistanis who remained stranded in Afghanistan on Friday (today). — Reuters/File
The health department will also start immunisation of Pakistanis who remained stranded in Afghanistan on Friday (today). — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: Health department detected five cases of Covid-19 variants of United Kingdom, South Africa and India origins as two more persons passed away due to coronavirus and 153 new cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday.

The health department will also start immunisation of the Pakistanis, who remained stranded in Afghanistan, on Friday (today).

“We have detected three cases of Delta (UK), one each of South Africa (N501Y) and India (Delta) in the seven positive samples of patients sent to National Institute of Health Islamabad,” health officials told this scribe.

They said that they had detected two cases of South African variant and one of Indian variant of the virus in Peshawar last month.

“The situation is not good as these viruses have also higher mortality, hospitalisation and virility. All those tested positive for the new variants of Covid-19 belong to Peshawar. They have been quarantined,” said the health officials.

Two more die of coronavirus in Peshawar

According to them, health department is concerned over the new strains of Covid-19, which also spread rapidly than the local type and is not detectable in local laboratories.

Officials said that about 4,000 Pakistanis, who had gone to Afghanistan during the last few weeks to fly to Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries, were being brought back. Most of them belonged to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and arrangements were being made to test them for foreign variants of Covid-19 and vaccinate them, they added.

“The health department has already recommended closure of Pakistan-Afghanistan border due to presence of India variant of Covid-19. The Afghans travel to India frequently and they can transmit the virus to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is home to thousands of Afghans,” they said.

They said that tomorrow they would be testing the Pakistanis at the border. They would be isolated on arrival and would be allowed only after confirmation that they were not infected, they said.

Officials said that about five persons, detected positive for foreign variants, were also quarantined and would be sent back once they became negative. The respective district administrations, district health officers and police were being informed about the infected people to trace their near and dear ones for testing, they added.

“We are already in the process of purchasing a latest machine for sequencing of the Covid-19 viruses following the detection of eight cases within one month because NIH is looking after the whole country due to which the results are made available very late. Once we install the new technology, we would be testing five positive Covid-19 samples from all 20 laboratories in the province,” they said.

A health department’s report said that two more persons died of coronavirus in Peshawar. The provincial capital also recorded 67 new cases, the highest number of cases registered by any district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Swabi and Nowshera registered 16 cases apiece. Cases from other districts were in single digit. Other districts of the province have so far recorded 4,348 deaths since the onset of the virus in March 2020 whereas the number of total infections is 139,008. Of the positive patients, 133,102 (95 per cent), including 98 recorded during the last 24 hours, recovered from the pandemic, said the report.

It said that the province was home to 1,558 active cases. It added that a total of 9,547 tests were conducted in the province.

Officials said that vaccination against Covid-19 was gaining steam as 98,000 persons were inoculated on Thursday. They added that administration of Moderna jabs was also in progress to the expatriates Pakistanis to enable them to return to the countries of their work, especially Saudi Arabia and Middle East.

They said that the province received 50,000 doses of Moderna exclusively for Pakistanis working in foreign countries.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2021

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