By National News Desk
Islamabad: Pakistan confirmed on Tuesday its first case of the new Coronavirus variant found in the United Kingdom after it identified a strain that spreads at a much faster pace in three samples taken from passengers who had returned from Britain.
The health department in Sindh reported that samples of 12 returnees were taken for genotyping, of which six tested positive.
“Samples of 3 UK returnees show a 95 per cent match for the new Coronavirus variant from the UK in the first phase of genotyping,” he said in a tweet.
The health department said that the provincial government had been tracking the contacts of these patients, and all those who had come into contact with them had been isolated.
The new variant is considered to be 70% more communicable and has given rise to concerns around the world.
The development came as Pakistan extended the ban on United Kingdom flights until 4 January. The ban was announced on 21 December. Several countries have closed their borders with the United Kingdom and suspended flights in the midst of growing concerns about the “out of control” of the new coronavirus variant, which has spread far faster in parts of England.
The new variant is said to be 70% more communicable, although health experts say that there is no evidence that it is more deadly or that it would react differently to vaccines.
In the meantime, 63 more people have died in Pakistan in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll of Covid-19 to 9,992. According to the Ministry of National Health Services, another 2,259 patients were in critical condition.
The total number of Covid-19 infections reached 475,085 after 1,776 new cases were detected across the country. A total of 425,494 people have recovered, he said.
The authorities have carried out 30,666 tests in the last 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 5.44%.