New restrictions imposed to curb virus variants spreading in province
The UK coronavirus variant responsible for the recent surge in infections across other provinces is now also spreading in Sindh, provincial health minister Dr Azra Pechuho warned Thursday.
We carried out genomic analysis of 22 virus samples from patients out of which 18 were found to be of the UK variant. There were also two cases detected of the variant B1135, the Sindh health minister said.
“The variant that we detected in March is now seen spreading in the community.”
There’s a risk that it might rapidly increase cases in Karachi and Hyderabad as it spreads much faster than other variants, Dr Pechuho warned.
A study carried out by the Karachi university revealed that around 50% of the new infections were of the UK variants while 25% are of the South African variants.
Due to large-scale violations of coronavirus SOPs in Pakistan, these variants have the potential to infect a large proportion of the population within a short period, Professor Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, director of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, had said on April 15.
Sindh reported 1,029 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths over 24 hours.
To prevent further spread of virus variants, we have taken a number of steps that were announced in the Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s meeting, Dr Pechuho said.
One of the most significant measures is the ban on inter-city transport from April 30.
We hope this helps stop the virus transmission, the health minister said.
During the winter holidays, lots of dual nationals from the UK travel to Pakistan, Dr Pechuho said. “This travel history has had the same pattern for years.”
This year, many Pakistani nationals also came to the country to escape coronavirus lockdowns in the UK, she said.
On December 30, eight samples of people travelling from the UK were taken and analysed for mutations. Five were positive for the UK variant.
We quarantined the travellers and began contact tracing immediately which stopped the variant from spreading, the health minister stated.
“We also asked the federal government to keep an eye on UK arrivals and quarantine them, but that didn’t happen,” said Dr Pechuho.
Now it is causing devastation in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and we might see the same situation in Sindh if we aren’t careful, she said.
“Follow SOPs, wear masks and social distance.”
She also urged people to get vaccinated, reminding those over 50 years that they were eligible for walk-in vaccinations.