Saturday Jul 10, 2021
KARACHI: The highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 is not predominant in Karachi, according to a genome sequencing report prepared by the National Institute of Health (NIH) amid fears of the fourth wave starting in Pakistan.
The report stated that the South African or Beta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is prevalent in Karachi, where some cases of the Indian or Delta variants have also been detected.
Health officials told The News that the UK or Alpha is the predominant variant of coronavirus in Lahore, adding that unfortunately all existing variants are being detected in Islamabad in equal proportions.
A senior official of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS, R&C) told the publication that 16 samples of coronavirus from Karachi were brought to NIH, Islamabad last week for genome sequencing. The official said that none of them contained the Delta or Indian variant.
“All the samples from Karachi were of South African or Beta variant, which shows that the Delta variant is not the predominant variant in the port city,” the official said.
Similarly, he claimed that the UK or Alpha variant was predominant in Lahore, where the prevalence of the South African and Indian variants were comparatively less, but added that four variants of the coronavirus were present and spreading in the capital: the Wuhan, UK, South African and Indian variants.
Commenting on the spread of the Indian or Delta variant in Pakistan, Health Services Academy Vice-Chancellor Dr Shahzad Ali Khan said there was no need to be scared of the Indian variant as it was not yet the predominant variant in Pakistani cities, but he advised people to get vaccinated at the earliest and follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to remain safe and healthy.
A day prior, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) had said that in view of the "extremely dangerous" Delta variant of coronavirus, vaccinations must be ramped up, and provided July 31 as the deadline for workers to get inoculated.
According to a statement by the forum, Delta variant cases have emerged in Pakistan and there is a possibility that these would lead to a fourth coronavirus wave.
To tackle with the variant as well as other variants that have emerged in Pakistan, the NCOC has chalked out a plan of action.
"Failure to take precautionary measures against the Delta variant can lead to dangerous consequences," the statement had said.
The NCOC had observed that due to the Delta variant, hundreds of thousands of people in India died, and coupled with a shortage of oxygen, countless people suffered.
The forum also decided that enforcement of safety precautions would be ramped up, especially during the July 9-18 period.
Various proposals are under consideration to curb unnecessary movement on Eid, the statement had said, adding that the decision to implement the proposals will be made keeping the spread of the virus in view.