New COVID-19 variant detected in Karachi

By Abdullah Zahid.

KARACHI: A coronavirus strain 95% similar to UK’s new strain has been detected in returning passengers in Karachi, announced the Sindh health department on Tuesday.

Sindh health department took twelve Covid-19 samples of UK returnees, of which 3 showed the new variant, states a statement from the department.

“The genotyping showed a 95% match of the new variant from UK,” it said, adding that the samples will go through another phase of genotyping.

“Meanwhile the contact tracing of these patients is in process and their contacts are being isolated also,” the provincial health department said.

Jinnah International Airport, Karachi

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan has been informed of the development by the provincial health department.

New variants of the virus have so far been detected in UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, Lebanon, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

‘Only way to keep safe is to excrecise precaution’: Dr Zafar Iqbal

The new variant is considerably more transmissible than previous strains, Dr Zafar Iqbal told The Pakistan Daily, adding, the only way to keep safe and secure is to excrecise strict precautions.

“The government should keep the returning passengers in quarantine for maximum 15 days and those who try to escape should be charged worth fines to create an effective deterrent,” Dr Zafar said.

He also termed personal residences as “the best place of quarantine.”

“We are witnessing more patients as compared to the first wave,” Dr Zafar Iqbal concluded.

‘Pakistan extends travel restrictions on UK travellers over new strain’

Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday it would extend until January 4 a temporary restriction on inbound travelers from the United Kingdom.

On December 21 and 22, Pakistan announced travel restrictions for inbound travelers from the UK, after infections from a more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus started surging in the European country.

Previously, the CAA had announced that the ban would remain in effect till December 29, 2020.

Islamabad last week banned flights from the UK until December 29 after infections from a more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus started surging in the European country.

A notification from the Aviation Division earlier had said that the curbs would remain in place from December 22-29, and will apply to persons who originate travel from the UK and are in, or have been in Britain over the past 10 days (from the date of the issuance of the notification).

The circular said Pakistani passport holders who had traveled to the UK on visitor or temporary visas would be allowed to return to Pakistan if they had a negative coronavirus test conducted within 72 hours prior of their flight and would be required to take another test upon arrival in Pakistan.

“Passenger will be required to stay in the airport or in government facility until PCR test is taken,” the circular added, prescribing mandatory enforced home quarantine for seven days.

The government was to review these guidelines on December 28 and communicate any changes to the civil aviation authority, the circular had said.

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