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health
Saturday May 01 2021
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COVID-19: Pakistan confirms presence of South African, Brazilian variants

  • NIH confirms presence of South African and Brazilian variants of coronavirus.
  • Sindh health minister warns the two variants "are not vaccine responsive".
  • Urges people to restrict movement, says if you do not do Eid shopping this year, it won't be that big of a deal.


ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Saturday said that the South African and Brazil variants of coronavirus have been detected in the country, urging people to continue taking precautions and register for the vaccine.

It said that the health authorities and the National Command and Operation Centre are regularly monitoring COVID-19 variants of concern.

“As a result of this proactive effort, one sample of the SARS-COV-2; B.1.351 ("South African" variant) and one sample of SARS-COV-2; P1 ("Brazil") variant have been detected at the National Institute of Health through genome sequencing.”

According to officials of the National Institute of Health, the B.1.351 variant was detected in a sample taken from a man belonging to Mianwali while the P1 virus was identified from a person whose test was conducted at Islamabad’s Poly Clinic.

The NIH officials maintained that the viruses spread at a fast pace and it is premature to say about the vaccine efficacy against these variants.

“The authorities are actively engaged in contact tracing of these positive cases,” the ministry added.

Regardless of which variants have been detected, the SOPs recommended globally continue to be our first line of defence against the coronavirus, it added.

“Please ensure that you wear a mask, practise social distancing and do not leave your home unnecessarily.”

In a video message on Friday, Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho had said that in a genomic study carried out by Aga Khan University Hospital of 13 samples, 10 were found to have the UK variant, one had the South African variant and one had the Brazilian variant.

"So you can understand the nature of the emergency, the pressure that it can cause on hospitals. The UK variant is one that spreads very fast. It has an infectivity rate of 60% and a fatality rate of 68%," she said, adding that the fatality rates of the South African and Brazilian variants are also "very high".