UK coronavirus variant has reached Karachi, Sindh health minister warns

April 21, 2021

Of the samples tested from patients in the city, 50% turned up positive for the UK variant of the virus, says Azra Pechuho

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Sindh's Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho, pictured giving a serious warning to Karachiites, in a video message released by the Health and Population Welfare Department, on April 21, 2021. — Screenshot from video courtesy SindhHealthDpt

Sindh's Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho on Wednesday said that the highly infectious UK variant of coronavirus has reached Karachi.

In a sobering video message on Twitter, the health minister said that of the samples tested from patients in the city, 50% turned up positive for the British variant of the virus.

Pechuho said that the UK coronavirus variant "spreads very fast" and after having already spread in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, leading to the deaths and infections of numerous people, it has now reached Karachi.

"The samples tested during the genomic studies we carried out, revealed 50% of the cases to have the UK variant," she said.

Dr Pechuho said that owing to it being the month of Ramadan and the Eid-ul-Fitr festival approaching, a lot of people were getting out for shopping. She said that at such a dangerous time when the UK variant is spreading, it is of the utmost importance that safety precautions be taken.

"Do follow SOPs and do not leave your homes unless absolutely necessary," said the health minister.

She warned people to keep away from crowds, wash their hands with soaps frequently, wear masks, and maintain social distancing.

"This way you can protect yourself, your relatives and family and members of the community."

Dr Pechuho encouraged people over 50 to walk in and get themselves vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19. "Our vaccination centres are open and remain open after iftar as well," she said.

NCOC takes stock of situation, says major cities may need shutting down

The provincial health minister's warning came as the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) took stock of the country's coronavirus situation.

A briefing was given to the forum on the rising number of cases during the third coronavirus wave.

The NCOC, in a statement after the meeting, noted that there are 4,000-5,000 cases reported daily which is severely overwhelming health facilities. It was noted that the number of patients in hospitals is on the rise as is the need for oxygen beds.

The forum said that currently 91% of the country's oxygen is already in use, which the major chunk of it being given to hospitals.

The forum also noted that coronavirus safety measures are not being taken seriously and there are a large number of violations everyday.

According to NCOC, Pakistan's coronavirus situation is "rapidly worsening" and if the country remains on this trajectory, all major cities will have to be shut down.

It directed all provincial governments to ensure there is no lapse in the implementation of standard operating procedures.



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