The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has identified 79 cases of Omicron across the country, saying that the patients have been separated and contact tracing has begun to restrict the spread of the variation.
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) designated Omicron as a variant of concern on November 26, the Ministry of National Health Services, National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), NIH, and provincial health departments have remained vigilant in their efforts to detect the new variant in Pakistan, according to a statement released by the institute on Tuesday.
“The first case of Omicron was reported on December 13 in Karachi. As of December 27, a total of 75 Omicron cases have been confirmed, (including) 33 in Karachi, 17 in Islamabad and 13 in Lahore. Twelve cases were associated with international travel,” said the NIH statement.
“The relevant authorities have isolated the patients and initiated contact tracing in order to control the spread of the variant.”
“Vaccination and SOPs (standard operating procedures) continue to be our best defence against Covid-19 despite the mutations being reported. All government-approved Covid-19 vaccines available in Pakistan remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalisation. The government urges everyone to get both doses of [the[ Covid-19 vaccine as well as the booster dose as per the eligibility criteria and process. More details are available at the NCOC website (ncoc.gov.pk) and Sehat Tahaffuz Helpline (1166),” it added.
Earlier this month, the NIH had confirmed Pakistan’s first Omicron case after analysing a suspected sample from Karachi.
“The NIH has been able to confirm (via whole genome sequencing) that a recently suspected sample from Karachi is indeed the ‘Omicron variant’ of SARS-CoV2,” the NIH had said in a tweet. Last week, after Karachi, the first case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was detected in the federal capital.