Pakistan reported its first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus Thursday.
As per the Sindh Health Department, a private hospital in Karachi reported the first case of the variant in a 57-year-old female patient who is unvaccinated.
The health department disclosed that the patient does not have any travel history.
As per the health officials, the patient is not showing any symptoms of the virus and has been sent home to isolate.
“We have not yet conducted a genome study but the way the virus is behaving, it seems likely that it is the Omicron variant,” said Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho in a video statement.
She said that although the Omicron virus spreads rapidly, it has been observed that recent cases of infection in South Africa have not resulted in either severe illnesses or a high number of deaths.
Dr Pechuho said it would take between one to two weeks for the genome study to take place, after which it can be said for sure whether the patient has contracted the Omicron variant of the coronavirus or not.
“The virus spreads [rapidly]. This lady is also not vaccinated, which is why I would like to appeal to you all to get both doses of the vaccine,” said the minister.
“For those who are fully vaccinated and it has been six months since, please get yourselves a booster shot,” she urged.
Speaking to Geo Pakistan earlier today, Sindh Parliamentary Health Secretary Qasim Siraj Soomro had said that it was imminent that Omicron would reach Pakistan as flights are continue.
“At the international level, several PCR tests were not positive in patients who were later diagnosed with Omicron infection. The new virus is highly mutated.”
Govt takes measure to contain Omicron variant threat
The national apex COVID-19 body had already taken measures to control the spread of the Omicron variant in the country and announced a massive vaccination plan that started from Dec 1.
In a meeting of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) held earlier this month, it was decided to inoculate booster shots to immunocompromised people, healthcare workers and those aged over 50 years.
The forum had also tightened travel restrictions banning passengers from 15 countries including southern African nations and making COVID-19 testing and vaccination for inbound travellers from Category B countries.
It was also emphasised during the NCOC meeting that the Omicron variant is spreading fast across the globe and the only protection against it is vaccination and following basic SOPs, including the wearing of face masks, practicing social distancing and washing hands.
The NCOC had agreed to take strict measures regarding the obligatory vaccination regime. It was decided that the vaccination teams should be deployed at various public spots to vaccinate the individuals on the spot.
The forum had instructed the provinces and authorities concerned to show a “zero tolerance” policy regarding an obligatory vaccination regime.