ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Health (NIH) recently confirmed the presence of the UK COVID-19 variant in two people who had just returned to Pakistan.
The B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant was confirmed via whole-genome sequencing following preliminary reports of the prevalence of the virus in some travellers.
Since the emergence of the new coronavirus variant in the UK, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has mandated all inbound passengers from the UK to be tested for SARS-Cov-2 on arrival.
The National Command and Control Centre noted that the new strain of the virus has spread to 31 countries so far, besides Pakistan, and spreads faster than the previous strain.
However, there is no evidence of increased severity of the illness.
The first cases of the UK variant were confirmed in Pakistan in the province of Sindh, on December 29.
The Sindh government confirmed the cases in Karachi among passengers who had returned from Britain in the last 12 days, as the authorities launched a gigantic exercise to trace the patients’ contacts.
In a statement, the provincial health department said that 12 samples of the UK returnees were taken for genotyping, out of which six persons were positive and the three showed the new variant of the COVID virus in the first phase.
”The genotyping shows 95 per cent match of the new variant from the UK,” the health departments said. The statement added that those samples will also go through another phase of genotyping. ”It will take a few more days for another genotyping.”
Speaking to the local press, department’s spokesperson Meeran Yousuf said that all the patients were under treatment at one of the largest private hospitals of the city. “All are in stable condition,” Yousuf confirmed.