Pakistan confirms first cases of new Covid variant from UK

Islamabad, Dec 29 (efe-epa).- Pakistani authorities on Tuesday confirmed the first three cases of the new British strain of the novel coronavirus after testing 12 passengers who had arrived from the United Kingdom.

“The Health Department of Sindh (province) took samples of UK returnees for genotyping, out of 6 were positive and 3 showed the new variant of the Covid virus in the first phase,” authorities said in a statement.

The genotype from the three samples showed a 95 percent match with the British strain, according to the statement.

The new variant of SARS-Cov-3 detected in the UK has led to millions of Brits to be placed under fresh lockdown measures while many countries have announced travel restrictions with the islands.

Several European and Asian nations have already detected cases linked to the strain, including Spain, France, Japan and Singapore.

Pakistan had suspended flights with the UK on Dec. 21, although it is allowing arrival of its own citizens with a negative Covid test and the condition of undergoing a seven-day mandatory quarantine after arriving in the country.

The country, with a population of around 220 million, has so far registered 475,085 coronavirus infections and 9,992 deaths, including 63 within the last 24 hours.

After overcoming the first wave of the pandemic with a smaller number of cases and deaths than expected, Pakistan is witnessing a second wave since October, which has led to school closures and other restrictions.

However, the wave seems to be subsiding with a sharp drop in the number of new cases within the past week, with infections averaging around 2,000 per day.

Pakistan is participating in the clinical trials of Chinese vaccine Ad5-nCoV, but has not yet announced plans for a vaccination campaign, which is expected to kick off in the second quarter of 2021. EFE-EPA


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