Pakistan’s health authorities appear to be ill-prepared to stop the arrival of the new coronavirus variant in the country, which is spreading fast in some countries including China, a media report said on Monday.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) says that the situation is being closely monitored but according to the Dawn newspaper there have been no measures at the airports, such as rapid testing and screening of inbound travellers, to detect positive Covid-19 cases.
NCOC member Dr Shahzad Ali Khan said it was uncertain how the new variants would behave in Pakistan since “viruses behave differently in different environments”, the report said.
“We have been closely observing the situation. It is a fact that a sudden spread [of Covid-19] has been observed in China because there were strict restrictions in place and an abrupt removal of these curbs allowed the virus to spread,” he said.
Khan claimed that the immunity level of the citizens of Pakistan was better due to vaccination.
“New variants may disturb those who are not inoculated, so I would urge people to get vaccinated and get booster shots,” he said.
“Although the NCOC has not issued any guidelines, I would advise people that they should avoid social gatherings for some days,” he added.
According to the report, independent experts believe the NCOC should issue fresh guidelines and give a ‘position statement’.
Microbiologist Prof Javaid Usman said that in China, the virus started spreading at a fast pace after restrictions were suddenly lifted.
He added that the atmosphere is currently polluted due to a lack of rainfall in Pakistan, with dust acting as one of the major pollutants.
“Such atmosphere contains influenza, swine flu (H1N1), non-Covid-19 coronaviruses, para-influenza viruses, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV),” he said.
Renowned general physician, Prof Dr Javed Akram, was quoted in the report saying that over the months, the transmissibility of the virus has increased but so far there was no evidence that the vaccines were effective against Covid-19.
“I suggest that the NCOC regularly issue guidelines because it keeps the masses and health authorities vigilant,” he said.
According to a National Institute of Health document, 15 new Covid-19 cases were reported across the country on Sunday. The case positivity ratio was 0.4 per cent, and 16 patients were in critical condition.
At least 3,749 Covid tests were conducted: around 406 tests were conducted in Islamabad, 107 in Faisalabad, 920 in Lahore, and 321 in Peshawar.
According to the report, the coronavirus strain spreading in China is a sub-variant of the dangerous Omicron variant: BF.7 or BA.188.8.131.52.
Following widespread protests, the country of 1.4 billion people this month began dismantling its “zero-Covid” regime of lockdowns and testing.
China, South Korea and Japan are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases, raising concerns in the neighbouring countries
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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