NH detects two new COVID-19 variants

ISLAMABAD:The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has said that as a result of proactive effort, one sample of the SARS-COV-2; B.1.351 (South African) and one sample of SARS-COV-2; P1 (Brazil) variants have been detected at the National Institute of Health (NIH) through genome sequencing.

Authorities are actively engaged in contact tracing of these positive cases, a spokesman of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination said on Saturday.

He added the Ministry of National Health Services and National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) were regularly monitoring COVID-19 variants of concern in the country.

“Regardless of which variants have been detected, the SOPs recommended globally continue to be our first line of defence against the coronavirus. Please ensure that you wear a mask, practice social distancing, and do not leave your home unnecessarily,” he said.

In addition, everyone over the age of 40 eligible for vaccination should register and get vaccinated as per the government guidelines, he added.

He said that the government has taken appropriate measures and tightened restrictions to curb the COVID-19 disease as the virus was continuing to spread fast in the country.

He said that the government was closely monitoring the third wave and it would not hesitate to lockdown more areas if other interventions don’t work in the next few days.

He said that the Prime Minister has also engaged the armed forces to ensure SOPs were followed while lockdowns were being imposed in areas with a very high positivity ratio.

He said that everyone must remember that the National Command and Operation Centre has access to data from all districts and reviews it every single day. “We take decisions based on the spread of the disease, success of SOPs enforcement and capacity of the healthcare system.”

“We urge you to trust the NCOC and provincial government’s decision-making as we have the full picture in front of us. In addition, we continue to expand the capacity of our healthcare system every day.”

He added, “Our engineers are actively working on making more plants functional for the production of oxygen.” He added diversion from non-essential industries also being planned while avenues for import from other countries were also being explored.

He said that logistics for the transport including the availability of trucks and drivers were also being monitored while guidelines for using oxygen efficiently were being issued to ensure there’s no wastage.

He said that the government was regularly purchasing vaccines despite global supply issue and Pakistan’s vaccine roll-out was continuing uninterrupted. “We have been very transparent and clear in our communication about vaccine procurement. It is wrong to say that the government is relying only on donations as we have already been purchasing from three manufacturers.”