Sat, 29 Jan 2022

Sindh [Pakistan], December 9 (ANI): Hours after Pakistani media reported the country's first case of Omicron variant of coronavirus, the country's health authorities said that no case of the new variant has been detected as of yet.

Responding to media reports of a "suspected case" of Omicron variant reported in a female patient, the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH) said that the sample is not yet confirmed to be that of Omicron via whole-genome sequencing, which is to be performed after obtaining the sample.

"This is in response to media reports of a suspected case of Omicron variant being reported from Karachi. To clarify, the sample is not yet confirmed to be Omicron via whole genome sequencing, which is to be performed after obtaining the sample," said the NIH in a tweet.

Earlier, a private hospital in Karachi reported the first case of the variant in a 57-year-old female patient who is unvaccinated, confirmed Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho.

The Sindh government has also clarified the case is "suspected" as a genomic study is yet to be conducted.

Pechuho later said cannot be said for sure whether the patient is suffering from the Omicron variant or not until and unless a genomic test is conducted.

"We have not yet conducted a genome study but the way the virus is behaving, it seems likely that it is the Omicron variant," she said.

Dr Pechuho said it would take between one to two weeks for the genome study to take place, after which it can be said for sure whether the patient has contracted the Omicron variant of the coronavirus or not.

"The virus spreads [rapidly]. This lady is also not vaccinated, which is why I would like to appeal to you all to get both doses of the vaccine," said the minister.

"For those who are fully vaccinated and it has been six months since, please get yourselves a booster shot," she urged.

This development comes as Omicron has been reported in 57 countries, and World Health Organization (WHO) expects the number to continue growing.

Features of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, including the extent to which it will spread, and the sheer number of mutations, suggest that it could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic, according to WHO.

During Wednesday's latest weekly briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus highlighted "a consistent picture of the rapid increase in transmission" but said that the exact rate of increase relative to other variants remains difficult to quantify.

Despite some data from South Africa suggesting an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron, more data is needed, UN News reported. Experts believe that the variant might also cause milder disease than Delta, but there is no definitive answer yet. (ANI)

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