On Wednesday, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho announced Pakistan’s first “suspected” case of the novel coronavirus variation Omicron in a woman in Karachi, but said that a genomic analysis was being conducted for confirmation.
“A genetic examination of the coronavirus patient’s sample had not been completed,” she said in a video message on Twitter, “but the way the virus is acting, we assume it is Omicron.” The patient is 57 years old.
“Omicron spreads swiftly, although according to studies from South Africa, it does not cause deaths or significant diseases.” There’s no need to be concerned. We are conducting a genomic study which will take one or two weeks.”
Dr Pechuho said that it would be confirmed whether the woman was infected with the Omicron variant once the study was completed.
The provincial health minister said that a genomic study was being conducted which would confirm the exact variant but for now, getting both doses of the vaccine was the best precaution.
“The virus also spreads because people are not vaccinated. This woman was not vaccinated either. I am urging you to get the second dose, and if you are fully vaccinated, get the booster dose. It can protect you,” she stressed.
“An illness is an illness. But to protect yourself from this virus, it is important that you get yourself vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad also issued a statement on Thursday which read, “To clarify, the sample is not yet confirmed to be Omicron via whole genome sequencing, which is to be performed after obtaining the sample.”
Earlier in the day, quoted the Sindh health department as saying in a statement that the first Omicron case was detected in a woman from Karachi.
“The infected woman has recently arrived from abroad and was unvaccinated. A private hospital in Karachi, where she was being treated, confirmed on December 8 that she was Covid positive. She was later discharged from the hospital and is currently isolated at home in Karachi’s East district,” said in its report and added that the deputy commissioner of the East district had been requested micro smart lockdown by the provincial health department
Pakistan recently imposed travel restrictions on 15 countries, including six African and some European countries, under safety preemptive measures amid a rise in Omicron cases worldwide.
Omicron and global concern
The detection of the first Omicron cases last month coincided with surges in infection numbers across the world, and the variant added fuel to concerns about a global Covid resurgence.
Top scientists from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States claimed that the Omicron variant appears to be no worse than other coronavirus strains while cautioning that more research is needed to judge its severity.
While it is likely more transmissible than previous variants, Omicron is also “highly unlikely” to completely evade vaccine protections, said the WHO.