Pakistan confirms first Omicron case amid vaccination push

Islamabad, Dec 13 (EFE).- Pakistan on Monday confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Karachi, the country’s most populated city, amid efforts by the authorities to speed up the vaccination campaign.

The National Institute of Health said in a statement that the genome sequencing study of a recent suspected sample from Karachi had confirmed that it was “indeed the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV2.”

“This is the first confirmed case” the NIH, which is studying other suspected samples, said in a tweet.

The woman who tested positive for Omicron lives in a densely populated area of the city and has not traveled abroad, provincial health department spokesperson Mehar Khursheed told EFE.

The patient, who arrived at a Karachi hospital on Wednesday, had not received anti-Covid vaccination but remains in a good state of health, Khursheed added.

On Wednesday Pakistan had announced that it had registered its first suspected case of the Omicron variant, which was finally confirmed on Monday.

Authorities had already predicted that the strain, first detected in South Africa, was likely to enter the country and ramped up vaccination to try and prevent the virus from spreading.

On Dec. 1 the National Command and Operation Centre, which is heading the country’s COVID-19 response efforts, said in a statement that it was stepping up the vaccination drive and the criteria for booster shots was also being expanded.

Pakistan initially imposed a travel ban on visitors from South Africa, Lesotho, Hong Kong, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia from Nov. 27.

Later, the list was expanded on Dec. 6 to include nine more countries: Croatia, Hungary, Netherlands, Ukraine, Ireland, Slovenia, Vietnam, Poland and Zimbabwe.

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