Passengers Landed in Peshawar Could Probably Be Exposing Pakistan to the More Contagious and Deadly Strain of the Coronavirus
Four people who recently returned from the UK tested positive for coronavirus. This is in conformation from officials in Peshawar, though the National Health Services (NHS) Ministry insists otherwise. The ministry says that though the passengers are COVID-19 positive, they do not have the new strain of the coronavirus. A new strain surfaced in Britain earlier this month and has proven to be more contagious than the first one.
This is in contention with the news from Karachi, where the doctors say that the new strain is in Pakistan too. According to them, a sample is with the medical experts for further evaluation. There is no official verdict for the same.
Local authorities traced 66 of the 102 passengers who returned to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa over the last seven days on official orders from the federal government.
District Health Officer (DHO) Peshawar Dr. Azmatullah said they traced 51 of the returning passengers, while 32 were tested for coronavirus. He added that 19 results had been received, from which four were positive and eight tested negative. The remaining results are not in yet, he said.
Dr. Azmatullah said that the contacts of those passengers were tested positive and among them, three results came back positive. According to the DHO, the test reports are with the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad.
Denial by the Authorities
The Ministry of Health denies the emergence of the new variant of Covid-19. It adds that it is monitoring the situation around the new British strain of the pandemic.
”As of today, no such variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in Pakistan,” it said in a statement issued on Twitter. “The National Institute of Health is sensitive and on alert regarding this new strain for timely detection,” it added.
Important Announcement Regarding The New Variant of SARS-CoV-2 pic.twitter.com/bQBLp9RGR4
— Ministry of National Health Services, Pakistan (@nhsrcofficial) December 25, 2020
A notification by the provincial government says that all passengers coming from the UK must submit samples and will also have to stay in quarantine. The province’s health department says the UK-born coronavirus is more severe in terms of its transmission rate than the original one.
Dr. Azmatullah says, the arrival of passengers from the UK is continuing and the authorities are mulling over keeping them in quarantine.
The announcement comes as the country’s national tally of active Covid-19 cases reaches 38,511 with 2,152 more people testing positive for the virus. A lesser than 1,824 patients recovering from it during the last 24 hours.
The Never-Ending Deaths
According to the latest update issued by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), 85 coronavirus patients have died. Moreover, of these 77 were under treatment in hospitals and eight in their homes or in quarantines.
A highly infectious new coronavirus variant in Britain has prompted many countries, including Pakistan, to shut their borders to travelers from there. Experts call the new stain the B.1.1.7 lineage. However, it is not the first new variant of the pandemic virus to emerge since last december.
The B.1.1.7 is up to 70% more transmissible than the previously dominant strain in the United Kingdom. The governments of Australia, South Africa, Italy, and the Netherlands say they detected cases of the new strain.