- Karachi reports first suspected case of the variant in a 57-year-old female
Pakistan has reported its first suspected case of the new coronavirus variant Omicron, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said on Thursday.
In a video posted on the official Health and Population Welfare Department, Sindh, Pechuho said that a genomic study was being carried out for confirmation. She further said that the patient's sample had not been conducted but the way the virus is behaving, it seems like it is Omicron.
"We are conducting a genomic study which will take one or two weeks," she said.
Earlier, as per the Sindh Health Department, the new variant was detected in an unvaccinated woman being treated at a private hospital in Karachi. The patient had arrived in Pakistan from abroad, the department further said.
The district's health team has also contacted the woman's family to take a detailed history and trace her contacts.
Sindh makes booster jab mandatory
Last month, the Sindh government decided to make booster jabs mandatory to curb the spread of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Health Secretary Zulfiqar Ali Shah said that it has been decided to make the booster dose mandatory across the province because of the new variant.
He said that the Pfizer vaccine will be administered as a booster jab. “The booster dose is being given only in Jinnah Hospital and DOW Ojha Hospital but it will be provided to the entire province and no charges will be taken for the booster jab," the health secretary said.
'New variant will come to Pakistan'
Last month, Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar warned that the new coronavirus variant Omicron will come to Pakistan, urging everyone to get themselves vaccinated immediately.
Addressing a presser alongside Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Monday, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) head talked about the new variant, saying that it was not possible from preventing Omicron from spreading as the world is so interconnected.
The Omicron variant
The variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa in November. The first known confirmed Omicron infection was from a specimen collected on November 9.
In recent weeks, infections in South Africa have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection.
"This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning," the WHO said, pointing to worrying characteristics.
"Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs."
It said the number of Omicron cases appeared to be increasing in almost all provinces of South Africa. As for testing for the strain, the WHO added: "Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant."