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Pakistan

There is no evidence about presence of triple-mutant COVID variant from India in Pakistan: Health experts

  • Health experts say the risk is enormous as the Indian variant has already spread to almost 50 countries
  • WHO has reclassified the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid variant spreading in India as a "variant of concern"
Updated 17 May 2021

(Karachi) Health experts have rubbished rumors about the presence of triple mutant coronavirus variant from India, saying there is no evidence to suggest that the B.1.617.2 variant has managed to reach Pakistan.

Speaking to a private media outlet, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan said: “We have reduced inbound air traffic by 80 percent and we are asking all passengers to get tested before boarding while they are also being tested on arrival."

He added, "We are keeping those testing positive in quarantine to ensure the variant dubbed as triple mutant or Indian variant does not manage to get into Pakistan.”

Faisal maintained, “We don't have documentation. Yet, to exclude anything in a country of 220 million is impossible.”

Similarly, Health Director General Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar denied reports that the Indian variant has managed to reach Pakistan. He, however, warned that it is just a matter of time before it spreads to most of the countries in the world, including Pakistan.

He said the risk is "enormous" as the Indian variant has already spread to almost 50 countries, including our region. "The pace at which it is spreading is alarming. For all countries, it's just a matter of time," Dr. Safdar commented.

Meanwhile, health experts have urged the government to ban all direct or indirect flights from the United Kingdom as well as Gulf states to prevent the entry of B.1.617.2 or Indian variant into Pakistan.

Earlier, the World Health Organization reclassified the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern,” indicating that it’s become a global health threat.

WHO's Technical Lead for COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove said the variant, known as B.1.617, has been found in preliminary studies to spread more easily than the original virus and there is some evidence it may able to evade some of the protections provided by vaccines.

“And as such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” she said.

Kerkhove stated, “Even though there is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies, we need much more information about this virus variant in this lineage in all of the sub-lineages, so we need more sequencing, targeted sequencing to be done.”