On Tuesday, the Health and Population Welfare Department of Sindh issued a tweet confirming Pakistan’s first cases of the new Covid-19 variant which was identified in the United Kingdom not long ago.
“The Health Department of Sindh took 12 covid samples of UK returnees for genotyping out of which 6 were positive and 3 showed the new variant of the Covid virus in the first phase. The genotyping showed a 95% match of the new variant from the UK,” the tweet read.
The department will, however, conduct a second phase of genotyping of these samples. “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 tweet added.
— Health and Population Welfare Department, Sindh (@SindhHealthDpt) December 29, 2020
Reports of a new mutated strain of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom caused a frenzy in the surrounding regions as well as in the media, to the extent that Pakistan and India temporarily suspended flights coming from the UK.
Last week, Geo News reported that a similar mutated strain to the one identified in the UK had been found in Karachi. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, the Chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Coronavirus, informed that the strain had been sent to Karachi University for further evaluation.
Pakistan on 21st December had joined several countries in banning flights from the UK due to concerns over a fast-spreading new coronavirus strain. A notification issued by the Aviation Division said the temporary restriction will apply to inbound travelers from the UK and people who have been in the UK over the past 10 days.
“Restriction to be effective from midnight Dec. 22, 2020, until midnight Dec. 29, 2020,” read the statement.
India said it was also joining other countries in temporarily suspending all flights from Britain after the emergence of a new and more infectious strain of coronavirus there.
“Considering the prevailing situation in UK. Govt. of India has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India to be suspended till 31st December 2020,” the aviation ministry said in a tweet.
Considering the prevailing situation in UK. Govt. of India has decided that all flights originating from UK to India to be suspended till 31st December 2020 (23.59 hours).
— MoCA_GoI (@MoCA_GoI) December 21, 2020